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Cottage Garden Favorites: Rose Campion

Updated on January 19, 2017
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Caren White is a Master Gardener and longtime volunteer at Rutgers Gardens as well as an instructor at Home Gardeners School.

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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. Surface sow them so that they are exposed to light. 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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    • OldRoses profile image
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      Caren White 9 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Dolores, I'm so happy that this hub was so helpful for you. Happy growing! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 9 months ago from East Coast, United States

      I am thinking of some new flowers for my partly shaded garden and for the life of me could not recall this one's name. I saw some growing at the National Arboretum and they were so brilliant and beautiful. Thank you! Rose campion is now on my list!

    • OldRoses profile image
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      Caren White 19 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

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

    • OldRoses profile image
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      Caren White 19 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

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

    • OldRoses profile image
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      Caren White 19 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

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

    • OldRoses profile image
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      Caren White 19 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

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

    • OldRoses profile image
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      Caren White 19 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

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

    • OldRoses profile image
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      Caren White 19 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      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
      Author

      Caren White 19 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

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

    • OldRoses profile image
      Author

      Caren White 19 months ago from Franklin Park, NJ

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

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

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

    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 2 years ago from Southeast USA

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Beautiful and your description is equally vivid!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years 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.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 2 years 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?

    • Phyllis Doyle profile image

      Phyllis Doyle Burns 2 years 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.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 2 years ago from India

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

      Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      M L Morgan 2 years 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. :)