Catchfly – a neglected garden flower.

Both Silene and Lychnis species are sometimes called ‘Catchfly’. The common name comes from the sticky resinous trichomes which quite often entrap small flies which land on them. Not all species have the sticky hairs, but the name persists.

Lychnis chalcedonica ‘Carnea’


These plants are really easy to grow – usually very trouble free and mostly unbothered by pests. They will get aphids and spider mite when growing in greenhouse conditions, but outdoors they tend to be OK and just keep going regardless of an infestation.

Lychnis chalcedonica -regular red form.


Lychnis ‘White Robin’ – these love moist soil.

Often the plants will only last a few years before giving up, but they usually self-seed and depending on the species they may also seed around the place too.

Silene nutans ‘Confetti’ – a rarer species which blooms for a long time. The flowers open in the evening.

Some of the species are really old-fashioned Cottage-garden style plants, but others can do better in rockeries, coming from more arid environments in the wild.

Pollinators love these plants, and the usually have quite long stems – not always though. Lychnis x arkwrightii is usually offered as one of its dwarf-growing forms – good and compact for smaller gardens or rockeries, but lost in a bigger border.

Silene regia ‘Royal Catchfly’ – a north american species which has tall stems.

These are really easy to grow from seed – just sow them in spring and watch them thrive!

Silene stellata – a rare north american species with flowers that open in the evening. The flowers are pendulous, hanging like Snowdrops for most of the day, then lifting their faces in the evening around sunset.
This is a product of my own breeding efforts – a hard to achieve cross between Silene regia and Silene stellata. The flowers have this attractive white/green reverse, picoteed pink and a strong pink flower. Most of the characteristics come from the Silene stellata parent.
This shows the regular pink ‘face’ of the hybrid. A beautiful peculiarity – but not “commercial” enough!



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