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Bladder campion (Silene vulgaris) has large, white, drooping flowers, and it has subspecies in different habitats throughout Europe. Many species are cultivated. Maltese Cross, or Jerusalem Cross (S. chalcedonica), has flowers of such a bright scarlet that they can be difficult to integrate into border plantings. Flower-of-Jove (S. flos-jovis) and Caucasian campion, or autumn catchfly (S. schafta), are popular in rock gardens.
Grown as much for its silver-gray foliage as for its neon-color flowers, campion provides excellent color and contrast in perennial borders and beds. Once the flowers bloom in late spring to early summer, the stems can be cut back and the foliage forms a groundcover for the remainder of the growing season. Campion is also at home in rock gardens, wildflower meadows, and cottage gardens.Campion has neon-color blossoms in magentas, oranges, and reds as well as white. Some of the pink varieties are so intense that the flowers seem to glow. The bright and showy blossoms develop singularly, in pairs, or in clusters. These showy flowers are vibrant but short-lived; each bloom lasts just a day. The flowers may be sparse the first year but should become prolific each subsequent year as the plants bulk up in size. Some varieties of campion have dark green foliage instead of the typical silver-gray. Campion seeds itself freely about the garden, so you may want to control its spread by deadheading flowers immediately after they bloom.
Campion prefers moist soil but can handle average, medium, and well-drained soils. During extended dry periods, campion will benefit from the occasional supplemental watering. Campion does require soil that will drain well in winter as too much moisture causes root rot. While campion thrives in full sun, it can tolerate partial shade but will produce fewer blooms. Campion tends to be fairly short-lived and in some areas it is grown as a biennial or annual. Most varieties flourish in areas with cooler summers.Rose campion ((Lychnis coronaria or Silene coronaria) has been classified by some experts as a short-lived perennial and by others as a biennial, but since it reseeds like crazy, it will function like a perennial in your garden. It has a basal rosette, which looks much like lambs ears (Stachys), out of which grow multiple tall stems (2-3 ft.) topped by small, brilliant magenta flowers. It starts blooming in late May in this area, and continues through July, and into August. This plant, a native of Europe, has been popular in gardens for at least 2,000 years, and has been in cultivation in the United States since colonial times. In recent decades, however, it has become a rarity in nurseries and garden centers, though the seeds are readily available. Apparently, the fact that it doesn’t bloom until its second year renders it less appealing to the nursery trade. (Source: piedmontmastergardeners.org)