Soapwort is a perennial flower that is originally native to the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean as well as parts of the Middle East. As the name implies, soapwort has long been used in soap making and other cleaning products. The leaves, and especially the roots of the plant, contain a substance called ‘’saponin, ‘’ which creates a lather that acts as a grease dissolvent when diluted in water. Soapwort in the wild grows near streams and bodies of water, so it has most likely been a practical plant for washing hands for thousands of years.
Soapwort is a hardy low-growing perennial that forms a dense carpet covered by small pink blooms. They will flower in late spring into summer or longer if the blooms are deadheaded. The plants grow from 6 to 12 inches and up to 3 feet across, so they are ideal to grow as a ground cover, an edging plant, in containers or hanging baskets. Soapwort is highly attractive to bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.
- Latin Name: Saponaria ocymoides
- Life Cycle: Perennial
- Canada Hardiness Zone: 3-9
- Days to Maturity: Second year
- Planting Depth: 2-3 mm
- Plant Spacing: 30 cm
- Growth Habit: 10-40 cm tall
Soapwort is a flowering perennial herb and belongs to the carnation family. Its common name comes from the soap making qualities of the roots. Also known as crow soap, bouncing-bent, wild sweet william and soapweed, all varieties of soapwort are known to be hardy, low maintenance and lovers of sun.
Seeds can be sown directly in the spring after the last frost or at the start of fall for spring flowers the following season. If starting seeds indoors, a period of stratification is advised. About six weeks before the last frost, put some moist soil into sealable plastic bags. Place the seeds into the soil and set into the refrigerator for two to three weeks. Upon removal from the fridge, plant the seeds into flats or pots and move them to a bright spot. Keep the seeds moist and exposed to light and they will germinate in one to three weeks. Harden them off and they will be ready to plant outdoors after the last spring frost.
Plant soapwort in full sun and well-drained soil. It prefers moist soil but can tolerate short periods of drought once established. Water deeply and allow the soil to dry before watering again. Soapwort will thrive in a wide range of conditions and temperatures. It will even withstand temperatures below freezing. Mulch can be added for protection during winter. Soapwort will only require fertilizer if soil is completely devoid of nutrients. Even then, one feeding per year should be plenty.
It is good practice to deadhead the flowers to promote blooming. After the plant has finished flowering, it can be cut back by half to maintain health and keep its growth in check. Soapwort reseeds itself and also spreads through its rhizome roots. In the spring or fall, the plant can be divided and transplanted to other areas of the garden.
The versatile, durable herb has many uses outside of its apparent beauty. It’s an excellent addition to the landscape and will bring in an assortment of beneficial insect species.
-The Latin name of soapwort, ‘’Saponaria,’’ literally means soap, as it was used extensively during Roman times and planted near baths and in gardens.
- Soapwort is used in galleries to clean tapestries and sculptures, as it is less abrasive than chemical soaps.
- Soapwort is used in the process of wool-making. Sheep farmers bathe their sheep in a solution of soapwort before shearing to make the wool more waterproof.
- Soapwort can be used to make homemade shampoos, here is a link to some interesting recipes: https://www.pixiespocket.com/2014/04/lets-talk-about-soapwort.html
- In the garden, soapwort pairs beautifully with Shasta daisies and echinacea.
- Soapwort is often used like Baby’s breath in floral arrangements, as it is easier to manage than the annual gypsophila.
- Soapwort also has culinary properties, as it is a ‘’secret’’ ingredient in a few traditional dishes from around the world.
- Soapwort seeds will remain viable for 3 year if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down.
OUR SEED GUARANTEE
You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.
Picked and bagged for 2023 the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.
We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.
We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!