A family of annuals and short-lived herbaceous perennials. Useful as border and rock garden plants, with attractive flowers and neat growth habit.
Family: Caryophyllaceae (pink or carnation family)
Botanical Name: Lychnis
Common Names: rose campion, ragged robin, crow flower.
Foliage: Deciduous, simple green or grey softly hairy leaves.
Flowers: Disc-shaped or star-shaped flowers in terminal clusters. In shades of white, pink or red (depending on variety).
Flowering Period: Summer.
Soil: Well-drained, moderately fertile soil (sand or loam). Any pH.
Conditions: Best in full sun, will tollerate some shade. Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect.
Type: Biennial or herbaceous perennial.
Origin: Europe and Asia.
Hardiness: Fully hardy in the UK.
Easy to grow. Plant in an open sunny site in any good fertile garden soil. Support taller forms as they grow.
Ideal for flower beds or middle of the border. Lychnis flos-cuculi (ragged robin) can be grown in the bog garden.
Mulch in early spring to retain moisture and water copiously in dry weather.
Divide established clumps in autumn.
Dead-head regularly to prolong the flowering period. Cut the stems down to ground level in autumn.
Generally pest and disease free. Young growth can be affected by aphids and slugs.
Sow seed under glass in early spring. Alternatively, divide established clumps in autumn or spring.
Short basal cuttings can be rooted under glass in early summer.
Lychnis chalcedonica (Maltese cross) is a tall upright hardy perennial with green lance-shaped leaves. Cruciform scarlet flowers in summer. Short-lived, but self seeds freely. Height to 3ft (90cm), spread 1.5ft (45cm). Available from Van Meuwen, Gardening Express.
Lychnis coronaria (dusty miller, rose campion) is a hardy perennial that bears flowers in loose sprays above the grey foliage. Both magenta and white forms are available. Available from Burncoose Nurseries.
Lychnis flos-cuculi (ragged robin) an upright hardy perennial with lance-shaped leaves and terminal clusters of deeply cut, star-shaped, bright pink flowers in late spring and early summer. Plant in damp areas of the garden. Height from 10-40in (25-100cm). Available from Thompson & Morgan.
Lychnis flos-jovis (flower of Jove) a rare perennial that produces rose-coloured flowers above its silvery foliage in June and July.
Lychnis viscaria 'Splendens Plena' bears clusters of double pink flowers above sticky leaves in early summer. Available from Van Meuwen.
Lychnis x arkwrightii is a hardy perennial with oblong, pointed, brownish-green leaves. It produces clusters of round, brilliant orange-red flowers in June-July. Height from 12 to 16in (30-40cm), spread 1ft (30cm).