Cottage Garden Favorites: Rose Campion

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The first time that I saw rose campion, I stopped dead in my tracks. It was growing in combination with larkspur and feverfew, some of my favorite cottage garden flowers, and the combination was perfect. The contrast of the hot pink flowers with the cool purples of the larkspur and bright white of the feverfew was striking. I vowed to reproduce it in my own garden.

Cultivation

Rose campion are related to pinks and have similar flowers but that is where the resemblance ends. Whereas pinks grow in mounds with grassy foliage, rose campion has soft furry silvery gray leaves that grow in a rosette about a foot wide. One of its nicknames is dusty miller because of its resemblance to that plant.

A short-lived perennial that is also sometimes grown as a biennial in colder climates, rose campion is hardy in zones 4 through 10. It is originally from southeastern Europe and came to North America with the early colonists.

The rosettes of leaves at the base of the plants usually grow to about 12 inches tall while the flower stalks arising out the rosettes can be as tall as 3 feet. They are topped with dark pink or magenta flowers. It also comes with white flowers. Newer hybrids have combination pink and white flowers or white with a pink eye. There are double forms also. Bloom time is late spring to early summer.

As evidenced by its silvery leaves, rose campion is drought tolerant. It prefers sun but also tolerate a little shade. It is also deer resistant.

My first encounter with rose campion
My first encounter with rose campion | Source

Propagation

You can divide the leaf rosettes to make more plants but the easiest way to propagate rose campion is by seed. It readily self-sows or you can direct sow seeds in the spring or fall. Sow them on the surface and don't cover them. They need light to germinate. Be patient! Like all perennials, it can take 3 to 4 weeks for the seeds to germinate. Seeds should be sown where you want your plants to grow. They do not like being transplanted once they are established.

You can also start your seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost. The seeds need at least a week of cold stratification. You can plant the resulting seedlings in your garden after your last frost.

© 2015 Caren White

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Comments 16 comments

M L Morgan 13 months ago

I had never considered Rose Campion for my garden. I'm a massive fan of the cottage garden look and already have Foxglove and Hollyhock growing nicely. I might have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing this very informative hub. :)


thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 13 months ago from India

We don't get to see these flowers here. It looks awesome

Thanks for sharing


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 13 months ago from High desert of Nevada.

A cottage garden has always been my dream if I ever get my own home. I love the old fashion flowers. I have not seen Rose Campion before - what a lovely addition to the garden.

Thanks for the information and tips on this lovely flower.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 13 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

It is nice to relate all these lovely flowers as cottage garden flowers, My grandmother had bachelor buttons, and hollyhock which I always confuse with Rose of Sharon, which seems like another cottage flower maybe?


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 13 months ago from Victoria, Australia

I didn't know its name, but a neighbour grew it and now it keeps popping up in my garden. Thanks for an interesting article.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 13 months ago from USA

Beautiful and your description is equally vivid!


nancynurse profile image

nancynurse 13 months ago from Southeast USA

I love a cottage garden where I can cut flowers all through the summer . Thanks for sharing.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 13 months ago

This is the first I have ever seen this pretty garden flower variety. It is a lovely setting for any home.


OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 5 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ Author

You're welcome ML! I was also a long time cottage gardener before I discovered rose campion.


OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 5 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ Author

Thumbi, it's probably too hot in India for rose campion to grow. Thanks for reading and commenting.


OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 5 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ Author

Phyllis, have you considered a plot in a community garden? I don't think they require you to grow vegetables only, so you could grow old-fashioned flowers instead. Thanks for reading and commenting.


OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 5 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ Author

Rebecca, Rose of Sharon is definitely a cottage garden flower. They are so lovely. Thanks for reading and commenting.


OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 5 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ Author

Blossom, I hope you don't mind them trying to move into your garden! Thanks for reading and commenting.


OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 5 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ Author

Thanks, Flourish! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and commenting.


OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 5 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ Author

Nancy, me too! Cottage gardens are just full of season long color. Thanks for reading and commenting.


OldRoses profile image

OldRoses 5 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ Author

Teaches, I agree! They have been a wonderful addition to my garden. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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