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Silene

Silene

Native to the North American grasslands, silene, is prized for its brilliant early summer blossoms. Boasting flowers in shades of pink, white, red, and magenta, silene often grows as an annual plant in meadow and prairie settings but some varieties have strong perennial tendancies and come back in the same spot year-after-year. The silene that grows as annuals self-seed readily and reliably pop up every spring. 

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

Under 6 inches to 8 feet

Width:

6 to 24 inches, depending on variety

Flower Color:

Seasonal Features:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

3-9

Propagation

A Note About the Name

Silene has the common name catchfly. The name catchfly refers to the plant's sticky leaves and stems. It is said that the leaves and stems are so sticky they could catch a fly; however, silene does not actually catch or attract flies. It is just the lucky recipient of a memorable common name.

Into the Garden

Silene is a great plant for your landscape. Its natural ability to withstand dry conditions and preference for sun make it a good fit for rock gardens, curbside planting areas, and full-sun garden beds. Count on silene's foliage to debut in early spring and persist through late summer, but remember that a few varieties go dormant in the heat of summer. Bold flower stalks unfurl their blooms in early summer, standing tall for several weeks.

A favorite stopping place for hummingbirds and butterflies, silene is a great addition to pollinator gardens or container plantings. Pair it with bee balm, cosmos, alyssum, aster, and calendula for a color-drenched flower show from early summer through fall. Add silene to a container garden and enjoy its medium green, sometimes fuzzy, foliage for months after the plant blooms.

Check out this container garden guide!

Silene Care Must-Knows

Silene grows best in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. In Zones 7 and above, plant it where it will receive afternoon shade. Well-drained soil is essential. Silene suffers and dies out in wet locations. It's easy and economical to start silene from seed planted in the garden in spring or from transplants purchased at a garden center.

After silene blooms in summer, allow the flower stalks to stand to encourage the plant to self-seed. Plan to replace perennial silene in the landscape every few years—perennial cultivars have a tendency to decrease flower production as they age.

What is well-drained soil? Find out here.

More Varieties of Silene

'Clifford Moore' catchfly

This variety of Silene offers pink flowers in early summer over yellow-edged leaves. Zones 5-8

Clifford Moore catchfly
(Silene 'Clifford Moore') offers pink flowers in early summer over yellow-edged leaves. Zones 5-8
Clifford Moore catchfly
(Silene 'Clifford Moore') offers pink flowers in early summer over yellow-edged leaves. Zones 5-8

Royal catchfly

Silene regia has 2-inch-wide fiery scarlet flowers in summer on stems that may reach 4-feet tall. The foliage is downy, covered with fine hairs. Excellent in native plant gardens in Zones 4-7.

Plant Silene With:

Coreopsis
One of the longest bloomers in the garden, coreopsis produces (usually) sunny yellow daisylike flowers that attract butterflies. Coreopsis, depending on the variety, also bears golden-yellow, pale yellow, pink, or bicolor flowers. It will bloom from early to midsummer or longer as long as it's deadheaded.
Snow-in-summer
Snow-in-summer is a double whammy plant -- it covers itself with striking white flowers but it also has striking silvery foliage. It looks completely at home in the hot, dry, sunny locations it loves -- next to sidewalks, between pavers, in rock gardens, along the edge of retaining walls, and tucked into the cracks of stacked stone walls. In fact, if the soil is too wet too long, root rot is likely to set in.Where it's happy, snow-in-summer will slowly spread, creating a carpet of white blooms that cover the plant in spring to early summer.
Thyme
Introduce scenery from the Greek Isles to your garden with lush plantings of thyme. This sun-loving, drought-tolerant herb carpets hillsides in Greece, thriving in well-drained soil. Drought conditions concentrate the aromatic oils in thyme, so the drier your growing conditions, the better. In your garden, tucking plants into raised beds or mulching them with gravel will give thyme the conditions that cause it to thrive and be flavorful.The flowers beckon honeybees, so add thyme near vegetable gardens to assure an ample supply of pollinators. Shear plants back after bloom, cutting off about a third of stems. With dainty proportions, thyme suits containers or the tight growing quarters between stepping stones.Thyme introduces a savory flavor to dishes, such as roasted vegetables, soups, and sauces. It is also a key ingredient in bouquet garni, fines herbes, and herbes de Provence. Use thyme to enhance poultry, beef, pork, or seafood. This herb also adds a kick to cheese and egg creations. Thyme's oils take time to be infused into dishes; add thyme early in the cooking process to release the greatest flavor.
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