Saponaria ocymoides
Common Name: Rock soapwort 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Native Range: Mountains of southern Europe, Spain to Balkans
Zone: 2 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to August
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium to dry, well-draining soils in full sun. Prefers slightly alkaline conditions. Tolerates some drought once established. Hardy from Zones 2-9. May suffer in climates with hot, humid summers. After flowering, shear back by around half to encourage branching, bushy growth and reblooming. Clumps can be divided in spring or summer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Saponaria ocymoides, commonly called rock soapwort, is a semi-evergreen herbaceous perennial ground cover native to the rocky, mountainous slopes of southwestern and south central Europe. This plant is densely branched with a mounding to trailing habit, creating a mat 6-8" tall with a 1-2' spread. The leaves are oval to lance-shaped, up to 1" long and 0.5" wide, held close to the stems, and greyish-green in color. The stems have a reddish coloration and can be semi-woody. Both the stems and leaves are covered in fine hairs. In summer (May to August) the plant is carpeted in sprays of small, bright pink flowers, 0.5-1" in diameter. The bloom period can last up to three weeks. This plant will self-seed in the garden, but is not considered aggressive.

Genus name comes from the Latin word sapo meaning soap.

The specific epithet ocymoides means "resembling basil" (genus: Ocimum), and may refer to the shape of the leaves or the highly branched habit.

Uses

Rock gardens, containers, border edges. Especially attractive trailing over a rock wall or container edge. Can be planted between stepping stones, but does not tolerate heavy foot traffic.