Lychnis is a perennial ornamental flowering shrub that belongs to the Carnation family and has been known in culture since the 16th century. The genus Lychnis has from 20 to 50 species, of which 15 are grown in culture (crown, chalcedony, alpine, sparkling, Jupiter, Arkwright, etc.).
The name comes from the Greek word “lamp” and was given to the plant, according to different versions, either for the bright, rich color of the flowers, or because its stems were used as a wick for lamps and lamps. The same properties explain the folk nicknames of Lychnis – dawn and adonis.
This herbaceous rhizomatous perennial grows in a lush bush 40 to 100 cm high. Its strong erect stems are covered with elongated, lanceolate leaves with a heart-shaped base. Both shoots and foliage are painted in a pleasant silvery-gray shade and have a short velvety pubescence. Lychnis blooms profusely, releasing thyroid-shaped inflorescences at the ends of the shoots, which can be painted in a variety of colors: red, yellowish, bright orange, purple, pink, white.
The culture prefers dry soils and does not require special care, it is able to propagate by self-sowing. It develops well and blooms luxuriantly in one place up to 5 years.
Lychnis: planting and care
Despite the modest nature and low soil requirements, before planting lychnis, it is still worth preparing a “place of residence” for him.
When choosing a place for a shrub, keep in mind that all types of this culture, except for crowned Lychnis, prefer to grow in well-lit areas, preferably with diffused sunlight.
The soil of this culture needs a neutral, drained, moderately fertile. Before planting or sowing, it is recommended to add river sand to the soil (1 bucket per 1 sq.m), as well as fill it with superphosphate (50 g) and potassium sulfate (40 g). Compost or humus should be added to dense clay soil to improve the structure.
Lychnis is not the most stubborn fighter for territory, so you should regularly weed the landing site. Otherwise, weeds and more active crop plants can “survive” your dawn from the flower bed.
The plant responds well to regular moderate watering and loosening of the soil, and the removal of wilted inflorescences allows you to extend the flowering period. Complex mineral fertilizers are applied under lichnis 2-3 times per season: one dressing is needed for grown seedlings in the spring, then it should be repeated twice more with an interval of about three weeks.
In autumn, when the stems and leaves turn yellow and wither, they need to be cut at the base of the bush. Most varieties of Lychnis do not need winter shelter. The exception is terry hybrids, which, after pruning, are spudded with peat, earth or dry fallen leaves.
Like most ornamental perennials, Lychnis can be propagated by seeds, cuttings, and dividing the bush.
Propagation of lychnis by seeds
The seedless method of cultivation involves sowing seeds in open ground before winter or in spring (April), after preliminary stratification in the refrigerator for 4 weeks. At a temperature of 18-20°C, seedlings appear after 17-25 days and then require only minimal care – moderate watering and weeding.
Growing lychnis from seeds, you can get flowering this year only with winter sowing – it will not be abundant and will come only under favorable weather conditions. To reduce the waiting time for flowers, Lychnis can be grown through seedlings. Seeds are sown in light soil, planting 1.5 cm, moistened with a spray bottle, covered with glass or film. After 2-3 weeks, shoots appear, which dive at the stage of three leaves. At the end of May, after a two-week hardening, young plants are transplanted into a flower garden, leaving a distance of 25-30 cm between them.
This propagation method is suitable for any type of Lychnis, but is especially recommended for terry hybrids, since plants with the same varietal characteristics as mother bushes do not always turn out from seeds.
For cuttings, shoots 20-25 cm long are taken from an adult lychnis bush. It is better to cut them at the beginning of summer – during the period of the most active vegetation of plants. After harvesting the cuttings, the places of cuts on the bush should be sprinkled with crushed coal or ash.
Chopped lychnis stalks are dipped into a solution or powdered with a root formation stimulator ( Kornevin , KorneStim , Rooting), after which they are planted in a seedling box or on a school garden. Landings are covered with a “cap” made of a plastic bag or a plastic bottle. When the cuttings take root and grow, they can be planted in a permanent place. Usually transplantation is carried out in early autumn, so that the plants have time to adapt to the onset of cold weather. In the first wintering, they should be covered with spruce branches or spunbond.
Lychnis planting by dividing the bush
For this method of reproduction, mother bushes older than 5 years are suitable. Usually by this age they lose their decorative effect and require “rejuvenating procedures”. You can divide the bush both in early spring and in autumn – in October.
An adult lychnis bush is dug up, trying to preserve the root ball as much as possible. Gently shake off the ground and divide the rhizome into several parts, which should contain a sufficient amount of leaf mass and at least one growth point. The number of divisions depends on the initial size of the bush.
Young lychnis are seated in prepared places, keeping a distance of about 30 cm, and watered abundantly. If the division was carried out in the spring, then in the first week after planting, the plants are shaded from direct sunlight.
Where to plant lychnis on the site
A variety of species and colors make lychnis a versatile plant suitable for experimenting in landscape design. Plant it in company with cornflowers and cornflowers – and you will have a beautiful landscape-style flower garden.
A bluish cloud of Lychnis with white flowers can act as a backdrop for bright annuals – viola, marigold or calendula – or complement a natural cereal garden . And if you combine a flower with other plants in similar colors ( lavender , carnation , blue fescue), you get a stylish monochrome mixborder in cold shades.
Due to its unpretentious disposition and the ability to live on poor stony soils, Lychnis is perfect for growing in rock gardens and rockeries. And this means that he will get along well with stonecrops , armeria, saxifrage and phlox.