Elisabeth C. Miller Library logo Miller Library Home UW Botanic Gardens Home UW Botanic Gardens Home book graphic

3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98195 | (206) 543 0415 | Open: | Library Schedule

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Silene, Plant identification, Alpine and rock gardening, Annuals and biennials

I am having trouble growing Silene (do not know the species). It has magenta flowers with notched petals on two foot stems and hairy basal foliage. I have killed four plants that were planted in four different locations. I am able to keep hundreds of other plants alive in my garden, but not this one! It flowers profusely from mid April through July. Then the leaves start wilting, and before long, it is dead. The only thing I can think of is that it needs superior drainage. Could I be overwatering it?


You may have one of the annual types of Silene, which die after setting seed. It is really hard to know for sure since there are over 500 species. You may be able to identify your Silene in the book Lychnis and Silene in the Garden, by J.L. Jones, 1999.

There are some magenta-colored species of Silene with notched petals (Silene dioica and Silene hookeri for example), as you describe. These are alpine or rock garden plants that prefer well-drained conditions and do not like highly acidic soil. It is certainly possible that you have overwatered or that the soil in which they are planted doesn't drain sharply enough or is too acidic.

Date 2017-05-30
Link to this record only (permalink)

Didn't find an answer to your question? Ask us directly!

Browse keywords

Search Again:

August 01 2017 12:36:01