May 26, 2009

Rose Campion as a Companion Plant

Over the last few years, I've been trying different "filler" plants to grow between the perennials until they mature.

Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) is now one of my favorites for this role.

I have several clumps spread throughout my deer resistant gardens where it keeps company with stachys, salvia, spirea, lavender, nepeta and agastache. Annual larkspur, sown from seed in the fall, has joined the rose campion as a filler plant.

The fuzzy, silver foliage of rose campion is tall enough (two to three feet) to send the flowering branches above other plants along the slopes in the gardens. The base is a rosette of fuzzy leaves and the spiking branches pop out above the base. In my zone 7b garden, the foliage is evergreen during the winter months.

Besides being deer and rabbit resistant, it is a drought tolerant, easy-keeper! After the blooms have finished, I cut back the spikes to the base foliage. It blooms again, but not as full as the first bloom.

Although it reseeds, but there hasn't been a population explosion in my garden due to my dead-heading. I need to leave a few more flowers for more seedlings this time. I have found a few tiny rosettes around the mother plants and have easily relocated those to fill in gaps while waiting for perennials to mature. In fact, the seedlings even sprouted among the rocks in the dry stream! This old-fashioned plant is short-lived and suitable for sunny locations in zones 3-9.

My original rose campion was purchased in pots from a garden nursery, but you can sow the seeds directly in the fall as the seeds like a little chill. This makes it a great seed to sow at the same time as annual larkspur and poppies.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; May 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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