This classic cottage-garden perennial is often commonly known as soapwort, but I prefer the quirkier, old-fashioned name of bouncing Bet. The species, Saponaria officinalis, produces upright stems topped with clusters of single, evening-scented, light to medium pink flowers through much of the summer, and even into fall. ‘Rosea Plena’ is similar in all ways, except that the petals have a split appearance, giving the blooms a quaint, ruffled look. The height is usually around 2 feet: shorter in poor, dry soil and taller (to around 3 feet) in moist, fertile conditions.
Be aware that all forms of bouncing Bet spread by rhizomes, so I don’t advise adding it to a typical perennial border with loose, rich soil. Save it for a more-casual, less-prime spot where you can let it romp, perhaps with other lovely thugs, like bee balms (Monarda). Soapwort has long been used as a gentle, natural soap substitute, and folks who work with natural-dyed fabrics or who want to experiment with making natural shampoo or body wash may want to have lots of the stems and roots available for harvest. (If you’re interested in learning more about that, here’s an informative video I found on YouTube: Bouncing Bet: Nature’s Gentle Detergent.) Full sun for best flowering, but even partial shade is ok. Perennial; Zones 3 or 8.
Collected in September 2020. At least 15 seeds.
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