Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis)

Soapwort (bouncing bet)2

Since Soapwort is blooming now in the Cherokee Garden here in Cobb County we thought that it would be a good time to tell you more about this special plant.   Soapwort is a herbaceous perennial that can reach two feet tall and shows pink/lavender blooms from July to September.    Here in Georgia many people used to call this plant “bouncing bet” which was the colonial period name for “wash woman”.

Soapwort prefers medium well drained soils in full sun.   It spreads by rhizomes but is not aggressive.  It is best to deadhead the spent flowers to prolong the blooming period.  This plant does not come true from seed and should be propagated by division in either the spring or fall.   It is a member of the dianthus family and features clusters of fragrant, double pink flowers that attracts butterflies.   It dark green lance shaped leaves get up to three inches long.   This plant can tolerate deer, drought and dry shallow rocky soil.

The Cherokee would make a poultice from the roots as a treatment for boils.  They would crush the roots and leaves which when mixed with water would make a soapy solution to wash clothing and to bathe.   The Cherokee also made a tea from the leaves and roots to use as a diuretic.

Soapwort (bouncing bet)1

 

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