H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Saponaria Ocymoides - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Saponaria Ocymoides Described.
Saponaria Ocymoides - Rock Soapwort, or Basil-leaved Soapwort: Nat. Ord. Silenaceæ.
A very hardy alpine from France, and one of the most floriferous subjects that can be placed on rockwork, where should be its position. During a single season it is no uncommon thing to see a small plant grow into a large cushion 2ft. in diameter, and only 6in. or 9in. high. In planting it this fact should not be overlooked, not only for the sake of giving it plenty of room, but also in order that less vigorous subjects near it may not become overgrown; it blooms all summer, and though the flowers are small and not at all bright, their numbers render it attractive.
The flowers, which are about ½in. across, are of a pink colour, and produced on many-branched prostrate stems; the calyx is five-toothed; the corolla is formed of five flat petals; the leaves are small, basil-like, oval-lance shaped, entire and smooth; the general appearance of the plant when in bloom is that of a compact mass of small leaves and flowers, the latter predominating.
It will grow in any kind of soil, but prefers that of a vegetable character, with its roots amongst large stones; but, strictly speaking, it needs nothing but an open situation and plenty of room to spread. It ripens an abundance of seed, and there is not a better mode of propagation than its own; hundreds of stout seedlings appear the following spring around the parent plant, and these may then be transplanted, and they will flower the same season.
S. o. splendens is a variety of the above very much improved indeed; and though one cannot discard the good old plant for its very recent offspring, the former is certainly very much eclipsed. Splendens has foliage slightly different, but its flowers are much larger and brighter; and though it may not be quite so vigorous, in this case that may be considered an improvement. It is said to come true from seed.
Flowering period, May to August.
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