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Soapwort is an attractive, garden worthy plant with stems reaching to about 60cm covered in opposite pairs of sessile leaves and topped with dense clusters of pink, sweetly scented flowers. Each flower, which is about 2.5cm wide, consists of five flat petals emerging from a long calyx tube. Soapwort flowers from July and September. It has a number of common names including wild sweet William. Soapweed and crow soap. Bouncing-bet is the name often given to the double form found in gardens.
Pretty Wild Seeds are registered with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under number 7529, so you can have confidence in both our products and advice. Although our products are listed in weights and acres, we can supply in additional quantities upon enquiry so if you need a larger supply, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
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We happily accept returns within 14 days from date of delivery. All returns must be received in the same condition and packaging we sent them. Postage charges will not be refunded on unwanted products.
You are solely responsible for ensuring the goods are returned to us. We will not be liable for returns that are lost in the post or lost for any other reason. If a product arrives damaged we will advise the customer how to return the item with all return costs covered by us. Replacements & refunds will be dispatched / issued on receipt of the returned items only.
Habitat; Soapwort is a perennial found in a wide range of marginal habitat such as road verges, hedges, banks and waste ground but is most a home in damp woods and by streams. In these last two habitats, it was once considered to be native but the general consensus now is that it was introduced in ancient times.
In the past soapwort was used as a sweating agent, a purgative, an expectorant and a range of other herbal remedies however its main use was and is, unsurprisingly, to make soap. Boiling any part of the plant but particularly its roots in water will provide a gentle and effective detergent that can be used on delicate fabrics. We would not suggest washing in the soap or ingesting any part of the plant as it is reasonably poisonous.
Sowing; Sow in spring or autumn. Seed can be sown at most times of year, apart from the very hottest and coldest months. The ideal temperatures are around 15 to 20°C (59 to 68°F). They are best sown early, from November to March in gentle heat; the plant will be fully established before the following winter. They can be sown in June to July if placed out of direct sun. Germination usually takes 14 to 30 days. Sowing to Germination: 4 to 8 weeks. Germination to Transplant: 4 to 6 weeks.
Fill cells or pots with a free draining seed compost, stand the containers in water to moisten thoroughly, then drain. Sow the seeds on the surface of the compost. The seeds need light to germinate so ‘Just cover’ with the lightest sprinkling of sieved soil or a fine layer of vermiculite. Make sure the compost is moist and not wet. Use a propagator or seal in a polythene bag until after germination which usually takes 14 to 30 days at 15 to 20°C (59 to 68°F).
Saponaria usually germinate within 30 days, but if there is no germination, put the container somewhere cold, at around -4 to 4°C ( 24 to 39°F) for 2 to 4 weeks. Then bring back into warmth, the change in temperature will trigger germination.
Remove the polythene bag once the first seedlings appear. When they are large enough to handle, transplant them to 7cm (3in) pots to grow on. Remember to hold the seedlings by the leaves and not the stem. Plant out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Space 40 cm (16in) apart into a well-drained soil in full sun.
Cultivation; Saponaria prefers full sun. Winter survival is dependent on the plant growing in well-drained soil. Do not fertilize during growing season. Bone meal worked into surrounding soil in early spring is all they need.
Cut plants back by about half after they are finished blooming to maintain a compact habit. This may also provide the added benefit of sporadic repeat bloom in late summer.
Mature plants spread through creeping underground rhizomes and in perfect conditions can get out of control and become invasive so using controls such as planting in garden containers or sinking barrier borders are recommended. It readily reseeds itself and will spread rapidly in a favourable situation. Prompt shearing as the flowers fade keeps it tidy and prevents reseeding.
Clumps may be easily divided in late summer or early spring.