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Zone
Zones 1-11, 14-24, 33-45
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Saponaria

Caryophyllaceae
Ground covers, Perennials

Strong-growing European natives, closely related to Lychnis and Silene, just need full sun and well-draining soil to prosper. S. officinalis can be weedy.

Saponaria ocymoides

Trailing habit to 1 ft. high and 3 ft. across. Oval dark green leaves. In spring, plants are covered with small pink flowers in loose bunches similar to those of phlox. Useful for draping over walls and as groundcover.

Saponaria officinalis ‘Rosea Plena’ (photo courtesy of Trevor Sims/Garden World Images)
Saponaria officinalis ‘Rosea Plena’ (photo courtesy of Trevor Sims/Garden World Images)

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Saponaria officinalis

Grows to 2 ft. high, spreading by underground runners. Elliptical to ovate, dark green leaves. Loose clusters of inch-wide summer flowers in red, pink, or white. Roots crushed in water produce a detergent-like lather. This is a tough plant that has naturalized in much of the West; before herbicides, it grew along railroad rights-of-way. ‘Rosea Plena’, with double light pink flowers, is the common garden form. ‘Rubra Plena’ has crimson blooms that pale as they age.

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