Saponaria officinalis 'Flore Pleno'
Common Name: soapwort
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates poor rocky or sandy soils. Tends to flop when grown in rich soils. Spreads by rhizomes, but is not as aggressive as the species. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong bloom period. This cultivar does not come true from seed and should be propagated by division in either spring or autumn.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Saponaria officinalis, commonly called soapwort or bouncing bet, grows to 2' tall on stiff, unbranched stems. It is a member of the pink family (e.g., Dianthus and Lychnis) and features terminal and upper axillary clusters of fragrant, pink flowers from mid to late summer. Dark green, lance-shaped leaves (to 3" long). Species is a European native plant which has naturalized throughout much of North America as a roadside weed. Europeans originally introduced S. officinalis into America in colonial times. They mixed plant sap from the stems and roots with water to form a lathery soap, hence the common names of soapwort and latherwort. Bouncing bet (bet is short for Bess) is an old term from England which means washerwoman.

Genus name comes from the Latin word sapo meaning soap.

Specific epithet means sold in shops.

'Flore-pleno' is double-flowered.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Can be somewhat aggressive in optimum growing conditions.

Garden Uses

Perhaps best in cottage gardens and wild areas where it can be allowed to naturalize. Also effective in borders or rock gardens.