Commonly known as Maltese Cross, this attractive, easy to grow, hardy perennial has long been popular in Cottage gardens and deserves a place in any garden.
The plants form an upright clump and have opposite pairs of broad, lanceolate, bright green leaves which are 12cm long and 1-5cm broad. They also produce large clusters of 10-50 scarlet, star-shaped flowers on tall, stiff, un-branched stems throughout summer. The flowers measure 1-3cm in diameter. Each flower has five lobes and each lobe splits into two smaller lobes. This forms a general shape similar to that of the Maltese cross hence one of its common names.
The flowers, which are attractive to butterflies, are excellent for cutting and will add height and vibrancy to any border. They are also an ideal addition for any damp area as well as the edge of ponds and streams. The fruit is a dry capsule containing numerous seeds.
In addition to being easy to grow this rugged plant is reliable and long lived. The RHS awarded it an AGM (award of garden merit) and also it was voted the county flower of Bristol following a poll in a 2002.
Lychnis chalcedonica is a species of flowering plant which is native to central and eastern Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northwestern China. The name ‘chalcedonica’ refers to the ancient town of Chalcedon in what is now Turkey.
As well as Maltese cross, Lychnis chalcedonica also has numerous common names including:-
Burning love, Constantinople campion, Dusky salmon, Fireball, Flower of Bristol, Flower of Constantinople, Gardener’s delight and Gardener’s eye. Great candlestick, Jerusalem cross, Knight’s cross, Nonesuch, Red robin, Scarlet lightning, Scarlet lychnis and Tears of Christ.
Position:- sun to part shade.
Average to moist, normal, sandy or clay soil.
Soil pH:- Neutral or alkaline or acid.
Stake tall stems to prevent flopping.
Divide large clumps in spring or autumn.