Lychnis

German Catchfly

A relative of Dianthus, the genus name of this low maintenance, easy-to-grow perennial comes from the Greek word lychos, meaning “lamp,” and it is clearly an attempt to describe the light that comes from the splendid-for-cutting flower clusters that can brighten any garden space.

Narrow, almost grasslike, green and often evergreen leaves form neat rosettes, while sticky stems earn the strange common name of “Catchfly.” Tolerant of poor soil and dry conditions, Lychnis captures plenty of attention when placed front and center along a pathway, in a crevice or atop a wall.

<i>Lychnis coronaria</i> ‘Alba’

Soft as flannel, silver washed and wooly, the short petioled gray-green foliage crafts a stylish basal rosette that persists through the winter and beckons a touch each time we pass by. Wide branching stems clad in paired leaves wave quantities of solitary, 1 to 2 in. wheel-shaped blooms illuminated in pure white hues. Never fretting about poor dry soils and sometimes short-lived but readily reseeding, this composed southeast european native can be massed in the border for a superb pearly-hued punch with Phlox ‘David’s Lavender’ or slipped into the rockery.

Blooms July – September.

Size: 2' 0" high x 18" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Soft-as-flannel silver-gray basal rosettes bolster a multitude of large, crisp white flowers, each with a prominent central pink blush. Perched atop leafy upright whitish green flowering stalks, the variably colored blooms promise a luminous long-lasting show, while the lance-shaped fuzzy leaves remain evergreen in mild locales. Wrangling lean soil, cold winters and dry conditions, this hard-to-find comely Lychnis requires good drainage, endures bright shade and mostly grows as a short-lived perennial, yet readily reseeds.

Blooms July– September

Size: 2' 0" high x 18" wide.

Zone 3/4.

<i>Lychnis viscaria</i> ‘Feuer’

Bearing profuse clusters of fiery red, five-petaled blooms, this Lychnis species is splendid indeed. The vitality of the smouldering flowers against the tufts of cool green foliage offers an encore as other spring blossoms begin to fade.

Blooms May–June.

Size: 20" high x 12" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

Tidy grassy hummocks furnish an illuminated display of pure white flowers gathered in copious, nearly whorled, rounded heads on strong stems. For a refreshing small-scale vignette, pair these quintessential hues with Dianthus ‘Mendlesham Maid’ and Dracocephalum ‘Fuji White’.

Blooms May–June.

Size: 20" high x 12" wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

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Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Helianthus 'Sheila's Sunshine', Persicaria 'Summer Dance', and Selinum wallichianum

Helianthus ‘Sheila’s Sunshine - P-0461

The sunflower was once an emblem of the Sun God of the Incas. Our sunflowers tolerate a wide range of garden soils, attract bees, and make great cut flowers. Blooms early August – October.

Persicaria ‘Summer Dance’ - P-1312

With foliage that’s close to lime-green, and spiky floral tails that approach the scarlet spectrum of rosy pink, this slow spreading perennial is sure to please. Happiest in semishade with ample moisture. Blooms August–November.

Selinum wallichianum - P-1406

This refined Himalayan beauty happens to be one of our favorite perennial umbellifers. With untold elegance, infinitely divided leaves craft a delicate, lacelike transparency. The compact yet airy green canopy is framed by distinctive, purple-infused branching stems that elevate a charming, late season display of white flattened umbels.

Subduing the riotous array of summertime blooms, it seldom needs staking, and appreciates a well draining moist niche. Blooms June–August.

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