Also known as
Soapwort, Bouncing Bett, Boston Pink, Bruisewort, Chimney Pink, Crow Soap, Devil In A Bush, Farewell To Summer, Flop Top, Fuller's Herb, Gill-Run-By-The-Street, Hedge Pink, Lady By The Gate, London Pride, Mock Gilliflower, Old Maid's Pink, Old Maid's Slipper, Sheepweed, Soap Plant, Soap Root, Soapwort Gentian, Sweet Betty, Wild Sweet William, Wood Phlox, World's Wonder, Bouncingbet Soapweed
Saponaria officinalis by Kirisame (CC BY-SA 3.0)
3 years to reach maturity
This plant has a mild fragrance
More images of Common Soapwort
Common Soapwort Overview
Saponaria officinalis is a hardy perennial from the Caryophyllaceae family. It grows from underground rhizomes and spreads with a clumping habit. This plant is frequently called Common Soapwort, Soapwort or Wild Sweet William, amongst many other names. Leaves are oval, it produces upright, scented pink-white flowers from summer-autumn. Common Soapwort may become invasive under ideal growing conditions. This plant doesn't have any pest problems as it produces its own soapy insect repellent which prevents any insect attack. Saponaria Officinalis can suffer from fungal problems if given the incorrect growing conditions. To prevent this it should be planted in a well-draining soil and it tends to thrive in low nutrient soils.
Common problems with Common Soapwort
Common Soapwort Companion Plants
Grow with low growing shrubs, early summer annuals and meadow flowers.
How to harvest Common Soapwort
Leaves, flowers, stems and roots can be harvested throughout the year.
How to propagate Common Soapwort
The easiest method to grow this species is by digging up the rhizomes and re-transplanting them at a depth of 3 - 5 cm and space them 30 cm apart.
Seeds can be sown at a depth of 5 mm and space them 10 to 20 cm apart in late winter.
You can propagate from seeds in the spring or autumn or from cuttings in early summer.
Special features of Common Soapwort
Attracts useful insects
Attracts insects such as bees and butterflies.
This plant is a hardy plant that doesn't require a lot of water to survive.
Great for large pots placed in any sunny spot.
Other uses of Common Soapwort
Domestic, cosmetic, insect repellant
The plant roots were once used to make a natural detergent.
It has historically been used to clean delicate or unique textiles. A lathery liquid that has the ability to dissolve fats or grease can be procured by boiling the leaves or roots in water. Take a large handful of leaves, bruise and chop them and boil for 30 minutes in 600 ml of water; strain off the liquid and use this as you would washing-up liquid.
Despite its toxic potential, Saponaria officinalis finds culinary use as an emulsifier in the commercial preparation of tahini, halva and in brewing to create beer with a good "head".