Saponaria Ocymoides, aka Creeping Pink Soapwort

May 26, 2017 | Love This!

Imagine: 

I pictured a sea of color below some grasses. I needed a plant that would do well despite the fact that half of the area it would be growing in was more gravel than soil. And yes, I was greedy…I wanted a plant that would self-seed and fill in, but not in an obnoxious, take-over-the-garden sort of way.

Sometimes dreams come true…

Name: Saponaria ocymoides, aka creeping pink soapwort.

Type of Plant:  A perennial plant hardy in zones 3-8 that flowers in late-spring and early summer. A low-growting plant that does well in all types of soil, clay or sand, and in rock gardens too.

Why I love this:  I love plants that can gently self-seed and increase without becoming a pest that tries to take over entire landscapes. I also like perennials that grow thickly enough that the weeds don’t poke up in and among them. And I appreciate plants that look good after they flower.

I found all of this in the creeping soapwort.

A Word to the Wise: Many sources say that the word “wort” is a version of “wirt” which used to mean plant. The name Saponaria is from the Latin sapo, which means soap. The upright species of this plant, Saponaria officinalis was historically used to make soap. But this species, ocymoides, has a name that doesn’t make sense to me. It means “looks like basil” since the genus name for basil is Ocimum. Does this look anything like basil to you? Me neither.

This is a perfect perennial for draping over walls and rocks. Full sun, good drainage (or a slope if you’re planting in clay).

The flowers appear over about a three week period. So a long time in color. Shear the plant “a little off the top” after it flowers if you don’t want it to seed or if you want it to thicken. I find that the plant looks fine even when I don’t do that.

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