721 Lychnis coronariaCommon Names: rose campion, mullein pink, Dusty Miller Family: Caryophyllaceae (pink Family)
Rose campion is an erect, many-branched biennial (or short-lived perennial) with softly wooly silver-gray leaves and stems. The plant gets 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) tall with a spread of 1-2 ft (0.3-0.6 m). The leaves are in opposing pairs on the stem and oval shaped; basal leaves have petioles (leaf stems) and are 4-6 in (10.2-15.2 cm) long; stem leaves do not have petioles and are smaller, 2-4 in (5.1-10.2 cm) long. In the second year of growth, rose campion blooms with a profusion of long stemmed rose-pink or purple (rarely white) trumpet shaped flowers a little more than 1 in (2.5 m) across and just as long. The flowers open one at a time and last only a day, but do so over a long blooming period in the spring and summer. Rose campion also may bloom in its first season, but usually not as profusely. By its third season, rose campion already is declining, but new seedlings keep the lineage going.
'Alba' has white flowers. 'Atrosanguinea' has dark red flowers. 'Abbotswood Rose' is a compact plant, to 2 ft (0.6 m) tall, with bright magenta flowers; it may in fact be a hybrid between rose campion and another species of Lychnis. 'Flore-plena' has double flowers. 'Oculata' has white flowers with pink centers.
Rose campion, Lychnis coronaria, is native to northern Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East, where it grows in scrub and rocky hillsides. It has been cultivated in Europe for centuries and has become naturalized in some areas of Europe and North America.
CultureRose campion is easy to grow in poor, dry soils. It does well in limey or calcareous soils and actually may do better and live longer in poor soils than in rich, loamy soils! Light: Rose campion does best in full sun but tolerates partial shade. Moisture: Rose campion tolerates dry soils and droughty conditions, but performs best with supplemental watering during dry spells. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 8. Rose campion is usually a perennial, surviving winters in zones 5-8. It may not survive Zone 3 and 4 winters but will usually reseed itself. Propagation: Sow seeds in place in autumn or a few weeks before the last expected frost in spring. The seeds need to be chilled before they germinate. Just press the seeds into the soil; do not bury them. Rose campion usually self sows abundantly if all the flowers aren't removed before they go to seed, and if the ground beneath the plants is not mulched too thickly. In spring, just thin the little seedlings around the old plant, and transplant some to other areas.
Rose campion is an old time favorite usually grown in annual beds and borders. Dead-head spent flowers to keep new blossoms coming. The flowers of rose campion have very long peduncles (flower stems) which makes them suitable for use as cut flowers, albeit short lived ones.
With a backdrop of silver-gray foliage, the vivid, almost neon, pink or purple flowers of rose campion really stand out. Use a group of rose campions to add a dramatic accent of bright color to a bed or border. Even when not in bloom, rose campion's downy silver-gray foliage is a useful foil in flower beds or simply to accent green foliage.
The generic name, Lychnis, is from the Greek for "lamp", and refers to the fact that the felt-like leaves were formerly used for lamp wicks. The common name, Dusty Miller, is used for many plants that have wooly, gray foliage. In fact, Hortus Third lists seven other plants that are sometimes called dusty miller: Senecio cineraria, S. viravira, Chrysanthemum ptarmiciflorum, Centaurea cineraria, C. gymnocarpa, C. ragusiana, and Artemisia stelleriana.
Steve Christman 7/6/00; updated 11/15/03