This genus contains some pleasing annuals and
Silene pendula, an annual from the Mediterranean
region, grows six to nine inches tall with lance-shaped,
hairy leaves, and stems that sprawl outward at
the base branching upward to bear loose, pendulous
racemes of flesh-pink flowers, rather less than
half an inch across.
It has various forms in
var. alba, white;
var. bonnettii, purple;
var. rosea, bright rose,
One of compact habit, Silene armeria, the Sweet William
Catchfly, of South Europe, is one to two feet
tall, with three-inch lance-shaped leaves and
terminal flat-topped clusters of pink flowers,
a little more than half an inch across.
Silene asterias, one to two feet, is an annual native
to Rumania and Macedonia, and has rosy-purple
Silene compacta, a biennial of Asia Minor, grows
eighteen inches, with many pink flowers in dense
Seed may be sown in early autumn or spring and
thinned to six inches apart; cloche protection
will result in earlier blooming.
Propagation is from seed.
The flowering season is from midsummer until late
Four inches to a foot.
Flowers pink or rose, in May.
The perennial Silenes, being chiefly Alpine,
and requiring rockery conditions are not treated
of here; the annual kinds are all admirable for
spring bedding, and supply a wealth of colour
between the earlier bulbs and the summer display.
The seed should be sown in the open ground, early
in August, and the seedlings pricked out six inches
By October the plants should form thick tufts
of leaves, almost touching each other; they should
be lifted carefully and put out into their flowering
They may be used for edgings, or planted in plots
or separate beds.
Their colour harmonises extremely well with Forget-me-not,
and if possible the two should be brought together.
The best kind is Silene pendula compacta, bright
rose single flowers, about six inches high.
Avoid the taller straggling kinds.
There are also varieties with single and double
white flowers, double pink, and one with yellow
These may be grown where there is room and time,
but should not supersede pendula compacta.
Directly the flowering is over, fork up the plants
and prepare the ground for summer bedding.