July 15, 2011

How to Collect Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria) Seeds

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria) is a short-lived perennial for zones 3-9 but may behave like a biennial or an annual—depending upon your gardening zone. One way to make sure that you never run out of Rose Campion is to collect seeds or allow her to self-sow.

If you heavily mulch and compost your garden in autumn, then you are likely to cover over seeds that disperse naturally from the pods. I find Rose Campion seedlings growing next to the base of other plants, in gravel and in my dry stream, so it doesn't take much soil for the seeds to germinate. In other words, this is an easy plant to grow from seeds. My garden is filled with Rose Campion because I gently scrape up the shallow-rooted seedlings and transplant them to better locations in my garden.

I rely upon self-sowing and have never started the seeds indoors nor had to sow later in the fall, so here are planting instructions from three other sources (I have no affiliation):

Diane's Seeds
Johnny's Selected Seeds
Botanical Interests

Rose Campion has long, silver stems.
This variety has magenta blooms, but there are also white and
pink/white colors available from suppliers.

Seed pods are dry, shriveled and ready to harvest.
To collect the seeds to save, cut off the pods
and place them in a paper envelope.
Cut the stems and discard.

Cut the stems at the base, just above the rosette foliage.
These cut stems, with pods, are discarded in the garden
so that no seeds are released into the wild.
Next spring, there will probably be seedlings around this bundle.
Some seeds have already fallen out of the pods inside the envelope.
These seeds have been drying for a week or two.
I use a small Phillips screwdriver to easily open the pods.
I hold the pod over the envelope to catch the seeds.
You may want to wear thin plastic gloves when handling seeds as
some varieties can irritate sensitive skin.
Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling.
With seeds emptied into the envelope, and pods discarded,
pour the seeds into a small packet.
(I had to hold the camera with one hand. I use two hands to do this!)
I don't worry about a little of the chaff mixed in with the seeds.
Commercial growers will remove the chaff.

Rose Campion is a wonderful and easy plant to grow. If you have too many, the extras are easy to remove from the garden. No pests, no deer, no rabbits, no voles have ever disturbed the Rose Campion in my garden. About the only thing that seems to damage the plant is too much water on the leaves. This is a drought-tolerant plant for full sun to part shade that requires little care other than cutting off the spent stems after the bloom.

It may take two years for your young seedlings to bloom, but the results are worth the wait!

Rose Campion provides silver foliage and magenta blooms in
the pink to purple color scheme of my deer resistant meadow garden.
Companions include agastache, monarda, cleome, echinacea and liatris.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
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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