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Catch Fly Silene coronaria

Previously known as:

  • Agrostemma coronaria
  • Coronaria coriacea
  • Lychnis coronaria
Phonetic Spelling
sy-LEE-nee kor-oh-NAIR-ee-ah
Description

Rose Campion is a very distinctive biennial or short-lived perennial that has very tall stems and is entirely covered with white wooly hairs. It has bright magenta-colored flowers, and its foliage is an unusual silvery green. The plant is a member of the Caryophyllaceae family that includes carnations and pinks.

 It is native to central and southeastern Europe to Northern Iran and Central Asia to the Western Himalayas. It is summer flowering and is found along roadsides, fields, clearings, or rocky areas. Rose Campion has been introduced to portions of the United States. Reportedly, it has been seen scattered in parts of the low Mountains to the Coastal Plains of North Carolina.

The genus name, Silene, is derived from "catchfly" or "campion." The plants in this genus have tiny sticky hairs that discourage ants and other insects from eating the plant. The species name, coronaria, is Latin and means "used for garlands." 

Rose Champion tolerates various soil types as long as they are well-drained. It is drought tolerant and does well in rock or crevice gardens. It prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade. Deer are not attracted to this plant due to the wooly foliage. The flowers are unscented; however, the flowers' nectar is enjoyed by butterflies and bees. Deadheading the spent blooms will encourage continuous flowering. Rose campion may be propagated by seeds and basal cuttings. The plant self-seeds and has the potential to become invasive. 

The plant has an upright habit and a slender to stout taproot. The tall stems and silvery-green, lance-shaped foliage are covered densely with wooly hairs. In mild climates, the plant may remain evergreen. The five-petaled bright magenta flowers are about 1 inch in diameter. There are cultivars available that have flowers in shades of white, rose, or pink. The flower is followed by a seed capsule after summer blooming.

The interesting combination of the bright flower color and silvery-green foliage will add interest and contrast to a cottage garden, pollinator garden, rock garden, or border. 

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:   Summer                 Foliage:  Spring, Summer, and Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • the entire plant is covered with wooly hairs
  • grayish-green, stout, erect stems with white wooly hair and measures 16 to 40 inches tall
  • basal and stem leaves are grayish to silvery green and covered with dense grayish-white hairs
  • purplish-pink 1-inch flowers with 5 petals that appear floppy and partially overlap
  • 0.5-inch tan colored fruit capsule that opens with 5 teeth and contains many tiny kidney-shaped seeds

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Rose campion is generally insect and disease-free; however, slugs may be problematic.

See this plant in the following landscapes:
Sun and Shade Demo Garden, Buncombe County Crevice Garden, Guilford County Dry Rock Stream Garden Crevice Garden, Guilford County Flowers Galore Crevice Garden, Guilford County Flower Bonanza Garden Storage Cottage
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Abbotsford Rose’
    Rose colored flowers
  • ‘Alba’
    White flowers
  • 'Angel Blush'
    White flowers with pink blush
  • 'Atrosanguinea'
    Light foliage and deep magenta flowers
  • 'Dancing Ladies'
    White and carmine flowers with a dark eye
  • 'Flora Plena'
    Double flowered
  • 'Oculata'
    White flowers with a pink or red eye
‘Abbotsford Rose’, ‘Alba’, 'Angel Blush', 'Atrosanguinea', 'Dancing Ladies', 'Flora Plena', 'Oculata'
Tags:
#cultivars#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#biennial#perennials#white flowers#silver leaves#showy leaves#cottage garden#mass planting#deer resistant#magenta flowers#woolly#long bloom time#border planting#cutting garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#flowers late spring#poor soils tolerant#flowers early summer#hairy stems#rocky soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#hot pink flowers#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden#Guilford Crevice Garden#showy#erect
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Abbotsford Rose’
    Rose colored flowers
  • ‘Alba’
    White flowers
  • 'Angel Blush'
    White flowers with pink blush
  • 'Atrosanguinea'
    Light foliage and deep magenta flowers
  • 'Dancing Ladies'
    White and carmine flowers with a dark eye
  • 'Flora Plena'
    Double flowered
  • 'Oculata'
    White flowers with a pink or red eye
‘Abbotsford Rose’, ‘Alba’, 'Angel Blush', 'Atrosanguinea', 'Dancing Ladies', 'Flora Plena', 'Oculata'
Tags:
#cultivars#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#drought tolerant#biennial#perennials#white flowers#silver leaves#showy leaves#cottage garden#mass planting#deer resistant#magenta flowers#woolly#long bloom time#border planting#cutting garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#flowers late spring#poor soils tolerant#flowers early summer#hairy stems#rocky soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#hot pink flowers#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#Buncombe County Sun and Shade Garden#Guilford Crevice Garden#showy#erect
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Silene
    Species:
    coronaria
    Family:
    Caryophyllaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    It is thought that the wooly leaves were used as lamp wicks in ancient times. The flowers were also used as garlands for athletic champions.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Biennial
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Leaf Cutting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    East Central & Southeast Europe to Northern Iran, Central Asia
    Distribution:
    Native: East Central Southeast Europe to Northern Iran and Central Asia to Western Himalaya--Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Hungry, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Krym, Romania, Tadzhikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, West Himalaya, and Yugoslavia. Introduced: Algeria, Assam, Austria, Brazil South, British Columbia, Central European Russia, Chile Central, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Morocco, New Brunswick, New South Wales, Norway, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Portugal, Quebec, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States--Al, AR, CA, CT, ID, IL, IN, KY LA, MD, MA, MI, MO, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, SC, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, and WI
    Wildlife Value:
    The flowers are pollinated by butterflies and bees. Deer tend to avoid this plant due to its densely hairy foliage.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Colorful
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 4 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The flowers are followed by seed capsules that are ellipsoid to ovoid-shaped and measure 0.5 inches long. The opening of the capsule has 5 teeth. Inside the capsule are many tiny kidney-shaped seeds that measure less than 1.5 mm in length. The plant reseeds itself.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    The flower measures 1 to 1.25 inches in diameter and may appear solitary or possibly as 2 or 3 blooms in a group. They have 5 reddish purple, pink, or white petals that are obovate-orbicular in shape. The petal margins are irregular and slightly notched. The petals appear floppy and partially overlap. There is whitish-green calyx that measures 0.75 inches long and is densely covered with white-wooly hairs. There are 10 stamens and an ovary with 5 styles. The flower stalk measures 0.5 to 6 inches long and has white-wooly hairs.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Spatulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The basal leaves are inverted, lanceolate, and spoon-shaped with tufts of dense white hairs and have entire margins. They measure 3 to 5 inches long and 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide. The basal leaves are grayish to silvery green. There are 5 to 10 pairs of stem leaves that appear opposite and are covered in dense, silky, grayish-white velvety hairs. They measure 2 to 4 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide and gradually become smaller as they ascend the stem. The stem leaves are also grayish to silvery green. The basal and stem leaves have a stiff leathery texture.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    White
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The plant has several erect and distally branched stout stems. They are grayish-green to white, stout, and covered with dense white wooly hairs. They measure from 16 inches to 40 inches in height.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Short-lived