All About Rose Campion

Rose-Campion-plantRose Campion Plant

What Is Rose Campion, And Why Is It Called That?

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria) is a native plant of North Africa, south Europe, and the Middle East. It has become naturalized in most parts of the United States and worldwide for centuries. 

The genus' Lychnis' is Greek for the lamp, as the felt-like leaves were rolled tightly and used as lamp wicks.

Silene coronaria, another in the family of the Campion, the Caryophyllaceae, is also native to Asia and Europe and found almost worldwide. 

Red Campion's scientific name, Silene, comes from the Greek woodland God Silenus.

There are several cultivars, including double-flowered versions. Here are the ones with successful growth and stay power in most regions.

* Abbotsford Rose is a rose-colored variety discovered and is the most popular in England.

* Alba is a white-flowered version and a stunning addition to your all-white garden.

* Angel Blush has a bicolor version of white flowers with an orchid-pink blush in the center.

* Astrosanguinea has deep magenta flowers and very pale foliage that looks beige-ish white.

* Dancing Ladies are a mix of white and crimson reds with darker red eyes.

* Flora Plena is double-flowered with blooms of deep magenta.

* Oculata has a white flower with a rose pink or magenta center, making the flower seem light pink.

Scientific classification of the Silene coronaria

Rose Campion

Kingdom: Plantae

Clade: Tracheophytes

Clade: Angiosperms

Clade: Eudicots

Order: Caryophyllales

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Genus: Silene

Species: S. coronaria

Binomial name: Silene coronaria

Other common names include Dusty Miller, mullein-pink, and Bloody William. They each differ in slight ways.

Worldwide, Historical Documents Referring To Rose Campions.  

At age 24, Thomas Jefferson kept extensive notes on his farm and garden crops. On June 4, 1767, he noted, "The larkspur, poppies, and the Lychnis were in bloom." Remember, he was the president who contracted the Louisiana Purchase and sent out the Lewis and Clarke expedition. They kept extensive historical journals that included 160 mentions of plants and nine of geology. His only full-length book, "Notes on the State of Virginia," was published in 1787 and dedicated to his collections and observations about the natural, animal, and human characteristics of his native land.

In the language of flowers, the Red Campion symbolizes gentleness, and the purple-flowered variety is depicted as the drunk tutor of the God of Wine, Dionysus. 

In Latin, coronaria means "used for garlands." 

Campion is a British name derived from a French surname in the 1066 Norman Conquest. It means "champion" and a crowning title for the little warrior coming to change the world.

According to folklore, Red campion flowers guard bees and honey stores and protect fairies from being discovered. 

 Red Campion seeds can be used to treat snakebites. 

 Red Campion is associated with St James in the Anglican church, as it flowers around his feast day. 

 During the Renaissance, the flowers were associated with the sorrows of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit. 

 The Rose Campion symbolized the 'eye of Christ' and a plant attributed to his mother, Mary.  

What Are Rose Campion's Uses And Benefits?

Besides being known as the 'lamp plant' and used as wicks, these plants of the genus Silene have roots that contain the compound saponin, which can be slightly toxic but has for centuries been used as soap for washing clothes, hair, etc. 

Folk medicine was known to treat diarrhea, lung and liver ailments, leprosy, and beriberi. Rose Campion extract has hepatoprotection or antihepatotoxicity and can prevent liver damage. It also contains other anti-inflammatory properties.

There are also references to Campion being used to cure corn and warts and heal sores, ulcers, and stings to treat internal bleeding and kidney disease. In Spain and Italy, the plant was used for digestive disorders.

Rose Campion Aroma and Flower Essences

Campion is said to shift lineage patterns of playing the victim, enabler, and perpetrator roles on the personal, family, ethnic, or racial levels. It heals multi-generational wounds and opens access to the 'Wisdom of the Ancestors' when you are ready to stop playing out family traumas or are in the process of clearing abuse cycles from your family. 

 I can't confirm this, but I know that when it blooms on my property, somehow, I always feel blessed. I use cut flowers; they are fragrant, long-lasting, and don't shed leaves or blooms.

Is It Easy To Grow Rose Campion?

Rose Campion FlowerRose Campion Flower

This soft and fuzzy, pale light green-grayish felt-like foliage makes a beautiful setting for the brightly colored flowers. Even though each blossom lasts only one day, there are always tons of them. 

You can always find them naturally in rocky soils, clinging and thriving on brushy hills. They do well in rock gardens, xeriscaping, wildflower meadows, and complimentary in cottage gardens.

Depending on your planting zone, it can be considered a biennial or perennial. It grows well from the 4-10 Zones. Usually, it begins its bloom in June and goes through August. Severe winters are brutal on them, so protection may be required. I always knock down my plants, cover them with leaves or straw, and they self-seed the following spring.

Many branches spread from 15" wide to 30" tall. It is hugely pest, rabbit, vole, and Deer-resistant, so it's a significant barrier plant around the garden. 

Rose Campion is so easy to plant and grow. You can easily plant too many, so prune out the extras and transplant them elsewhere. As this is a drought-tolerant plant, it requires little care other than cutting off the spent stems after the bloom and keeping it in full sun to partly shade.

Rose Campion Full SunRose Campion in Full Sun

Growing From Seeds

Start Campion seeds indoors in late winter, or use winter sowing methods to start them outdoors while the weather is still cold. Set out seedlings when the soil warms in spring. Water as needed, but don't soak until they are actively growing.


Rose campion does well in full or partial sun. It might dry out in the hottest summer, so it's best to plant for the morning sun rather than the afternoon sun. It doesn't bloom well in full shade. If you find it, reseed to relocate the plants to a sunnier location.


Rose Campion does best in well-drained soil or wet areas around roots, which causes root rot. 


Once established, it is drought tolerant. Water it as you water your garden or beds. It may droop in a heat wave, so give it an extra drink.

Temperature and Humidity

Rose Campion is hardy to temperatures at Zone 5 but struggles in harsh winters. However, covered, it should reseed normally. Humidity is good, but there is not too much moisture in the soil.


Rose campion doesn't usually need fertilizer, but if your soil is thin or can't support a root system, adding compost to the area may help it reseed more vigorously.

It may take until the second spring to see many blooms, so hang in there.

Propagate Rose campion from seed will give you a massive amount of seeds and will self-seed like crazy. To encourage this, don't mulch around the plants. Let the seeds fall and lie undisturbed, and you will have plants next year.

It is a decorative plant that grows 1-inch flowers from late spring to late summer and, pruned right, can last until late fall. It can grow to a woody stem with dark green leaves in warmer zones. I place lots of them as a tall backdrop to my shorter plants.

How long does it take for Rose Campion to germinate?

Germinate seeds at 70 degrees in about 20 -25 days.


Deadhead your Campion to prevent it from reseeding (unless you want it to), and remove the dead-looking flowers once the bloom season is over.  Deadheading regularly encourages continuous flowering. You do this after the initial flowering, promoting more flowers later in the season.

Prune back your plants to one-third of their size in late fall or early winter. I lay the plants down, cut them as free mulch, and let them reseed right there.


Rose campion is a short-lived perennial or a biennial and may not return year to year in your garden unless it reseeds. It's easily reseeded with the right conditions. Typically, it will reseed in the same general area where it grows, but if you scatter the seed in autumn, it may be reseed in the spring.

Propagating Rose Campion

Divide Campion into sections to replant them. You can allow them to reseed naturally or plant fresh seeds outdoors in your chosen location.

Click the picture above to see the price of Rose Campion Seeds online. (200 for $10) I feel they are way out of line.  
If you purchase organic heirloom with no pesticide seeds from me, you will get no less than a thousand seeds per packet for only $10.00 S/H included.  

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