Rose campion – info, planting, care and tips

Rose campion (Silene coronaria)
Rose campion (Silene coronaria)

The rose campion impresses with its brightly colored flowers and silver-gray foliage. This is how to plant and care for the mullein-pink.

Profile of rose campion :

Scientific name: Silene coronaria, syn. Lychnis coronaria

Plant family: pink or carnation family (Caryophyllaceae)

Other names: dusty miller, mullein-pink, bloody William, crown pink

Sowing time: spring

Planting time: spring to autumn

Flowering period: June to August

Location: sunny

Soil quality: sandy, nutrient rich, humus rich

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flowerbeds, flower meadow, borders, cottage garden, flower garden, natural garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 (-32 °C / -25 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of rose campion

Plant order, origin and occurrence of rose campion

The rose campion (Silene coronaria), also called dusty miller, mullein-pink, bloody William or crown pink, is a species of the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae). It grows naturally on rocky slopes and in bushes in Southern Europe. The rose campion was first pictured around 1410.

Characteristics of rose campion


The evergreen rose campion is a short-lived perennial. In suitable locations, however, it survives by self-sowing. It is characterized by a cluster-forming and upright growth and is between 60 and 90 centimeters (24 and 36 in) high.


Rose campion has dense, silver-gray hairy leaf rosettes that are fully developed in autumn. The tall, white felty flower stalks, which are also sporadically leafed, sprout from them in spring. The leaves are lanceolate in shape.


Depending on the variety, the bright carmine-red to light-purple or white flowers of the rose campion appear from June to August. They are about 3 centimeters (1.2 in) wide and stand individually in loosely branched grapes. The petals are wide and undivided, which gives the flowers a plate-like appearance. Rose campions bloom most beautifully in the second year.


After flowering, numerous capsule fruits containing seeds form.

Rose campion – cultivation and care


Place the rose campion in a location that is as sunny and warm as possible. Although the perennial still thrives well in light partial shade, it only develops a few flowers there.


A place on nutrient-rich, fresh and sandy-humic soil that is loose and well-drained is perfect. Rose campions wither very quickly in extreme drought, which is why the soil should be more humid, the sunnier the perennial is. The plant, on the other hand, does not tolerate winter moisture, just like waterlogging or a wet subsoil. You should therefore plant the perennials on the edge of a garden pond or along a hedge. The vigorous plants can also often be found on a sunny slope or embankment.

Planting rose campion

As a rule, the rose campion is sown in spring, but you can also plant purchased or grown plants directly at the desired location. The ideal planting time is spring, but container goods can generally be placed in the garden until winter. The only requirement is frost-free, mild and not too humid weather. When planting, keep a planting distance of between 20 and 30 centimeters (8 to 12 in) to other plants; you can plan about eight to ten plants per square meter of planting area. This is how it is planted:

  • Moisturize the root ball well before planting
  • Dig the planting hole, twice as wide and deep as the root ball
  • Mix the excavated material with compost and, if necessary, sand and gravel
  • Plant the rose campion as deep as in the pot
  • Press the soil well
  • Water well and keep slightly moist for the following weeks

Watering / Fertilization

Rose campion that are planted in the garden do not need fertilization, but need an additional water supply during longer periods of drought.


Even pruning is only necessary with the very easy to care for perennial if self-sowing is to be avoided. In this case, cut the plants to about 15 centimeters (6 in) above the ground after the flowering period, then they can no longer develop the seed-containing capsule fruits. You can also remove withered leaves from time to time.


The perennials die after about two to three years, but multiply very reliably by self-sowing or by the numerous runners. Within a short period of time, dense carpets are formed, which have to be limited rather than promoted in their spread. An increase by division, however, is not necessary.

A targeted propagation is best achieved by sowing, whereby you can either purchase the seeds in stores or collect them yourself. The capsules are ripe as soon as they open and release the seeds. This is how it is sown:

  • sowing takes place in spring
  • sow directly on site or in a container
  • sunny to light partially shaded location
  • use loose and humus containing potting compost
  • prepare the potting compost well, loosen it up and remove weeds
  • scatter seeds, but do not cover with soil, just press lightly
  • moisten the soil slightly and always keep it slightly moist
  • avoid waterlogging
  • prick out plants as soon as they have at least four leaves

Diseases and pests

The rose campion is not only extremely easy to care for, but also very resistant to diseases and pests. The only problem is usually a fungal attack due to excessive moisture or waterlogging in the bed. In this case, the infected plants should be removed immediately to prevent further spread. Aphids in particular are common among pests, but they are quite easy to remove. Snails, on the other hand, avoid the plants, so there is no danger from this direction.


Rose campions are hardy down to -32 °C / -25 °F and do not require additional winter protection. Only winter wetness should be avoided, as the plants cannot tolerate it. You can cover them with fir or spruce branches to protect them from continuous rain and snow.

Use in the garden

The rose campion is particularly effective in small groups in open spaces or as a companion shrub in borders. There it can be nicely combined with white, yellow or blue flowering perennials such as yarrow, delphinium or rough oxeye. The rose campion also feels very comfortable on the edge of a flower meadow or on the sunny edge of the wood. During the flowering period, it attracts many insects into the garden, especially butterflies such as the brimstone butterfly.

If you want to create variety in the flowerbed, you can plant other types of campions, such as these:

  • Red Alpine catchfly (Silene suecica or Lychnis alpina): purple-red, dense flower clusters between May and June, bushy, spreading growth, up to 15 centimeters (6 in) high
  • Sticky catchfly (Silene viscaria): pretty pink to red flowers between May and June, growth height up to approx. 40 centimeters (16 in), strongly branched growth, for dry locations
  • Ragged-robin (Silene flos-cuculi): species with fringed, pink flowers between May and June, heavily branched, bushy growth with heights of up to 40 centimeters (16 in)
  • Red campion (Silene dioica): species with heavily branched inflorescences and bright red flowers, blooms for a long time between April and October – the individual flowers only open for one day at a time, bushy growth with heights of up to 90 centimeters, (36 in) for moist and calcareous soils
  • Maltese-cross or flower of Bristol (Lychnis chalcedonica): forms spherical, bright red umbels between June and July, bushy growth with heights of up to 80 centimeters (32 in), for locations in full sun
  • White campion (Silene latifolia): species with numerous white flowers that do not open until the afternoon and have a strong scent, blooms between June and September mainly on nitrogen-rich clay soils, bushy growth with heights of up to 120 centimeters (48 in)


There are different types, groups of varieties and mixtures of the rose campion in stores. An overview:

  • ‘Abbotswood Rose’: pretty, pink flowers
  • ‘Alba’: pure white flowers that go wonderfully with other white flowering perennials
  • ‘Angel’s Blush’: also blooming white, but with a pink eye
  • ‘Atrosanguinea’: group of varieties with strong magenta to carmine-red flowers
  • ‘Blushing Bride’: white flowers with a pretty pink eye
  • ‘Dancing Ladies’: Mixture of varieties with white, pink and cherry-red blossoming varieties
  • ‘Hutchinson’s Cream’: white flowers and pretty spotted leaves


  1. Thank you for the information about rose campion. I am sending seeds from my rose campion plant grown in upstate NY to my friend who lives in Seattle.
    I read that the seeds need a period of cold to germinate.
    Here in NY seeds from the self sown plant had several cold winter months between warm seasons. In Seattle the winters are very mild. Does she need to refrigerate the seeds before sowing them?

    • As far as I know, rose campion dos not need cold to germinate. Some say the best temperature is about 20-22 °C / 68 – 72 °F. But if your friend wants to be on the safe side, why not try and sow only a few seeds and keep some in the backhand for more tries.

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