FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Silene caroliniana ‘Short and Sweet’ is a tufted perennial wildflower with narrow lance-shaped leaves. In spring loose clusters of dark centered rosy pink flowers rise above the foliage on slender stems. The floret bases are tubular and the petals are spreading and wedge shaped similar to phlox. Plants thrive in sunny or partially shaded gardens with well drained moist or dry soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent species Silene caroliniana occurs in the eastern United States from New Hampshire to the Florida panhandle and west to Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama. Plants are indigenous to dry rocky, gravelly or sandy deciduous woods, calcareous forests, open wooded clearings, barrens and rock outcrops.
The cultivar ‘Short and Sweet’ is a compact resilient selection that was introduced to the trade by North Creek Nursery. This variety forms spreading mounds and has a long blooming period for as much as 8 weeks.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 5-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Silene caroliniana ‘Short and Sweet’ is a low mounding wildflower with gray-green pubescent foliage.
Leaves are semi-evergreen and mostly basal. The blades are narrow with rounded or bluntly pointed tips. The stem leaves are arranged in pairs and are sessile and smaller than the lower leaves.
In spring clusters of deep pink flowers rise above the foliage. Florets have narrow tubes that spread into 5 wide notched petals. The calyx is covered with sticky glandular hairs.
After flowering, elongated capsules less than ½” long form. Each has an opening at the tip surrounded by 6-8 recurved teeth. The seed inside are dark brown and kidney shaped.
Flowering stems rise to 6-8” and plants spread to 10-15”.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Silene caroliniana ‘Short and Sweet’ flourishes in sun and extremely well drained soil.
Plants tolerate part shade, sandy, gravelly or rocky soil, drought, acid or alkaline pH and shallow infertile soil.
This cultivar is pest resistant.
LANDSCAPE USES: This Groundcover produces colorful spring carpets of flowers in Perennial Borders or Rock Gardens. It is an excellent native substitute for exotic Dianthus spp. in Containers or garden beds. Plants are used as Butterfly Nectar Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Silene caroliniana ‘Short and Sweet’ has Showy Blooms and is appropriate for Cottage Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes and Low Maintenance Plantings.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Silene caroliniana ‘Short and Sweet’ with Amsonia hubrichtii, Baptisia tinctoria, Carex pensylvanica, Heuchera villosa, Monarda punctata, Sedum ternatum or Schizachyrium scoparium.
Silene caroliniana could be substituted in some situations.
TRIVIA: Silene caroliniana ‘Short and Sweet’ provides nectar for native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and nocturnal moths.
Silene caroliniana ‘Short and Sweet’ belongs to the Pink Family (Caryophyllaceae). Family members have petals that are notched or fringed in some way. The stem leaves are opposite, sessile and attached in a way that makes the stem nodes look swollen. Silene spp. is the largest genus in the family.
Silene caroliniana is sometimes called sticky catchfly because of the sticky hairs on the calyx that are reminiscent of fly paper. The sticky surface deters ants from climbing to the flower to steal nectar.
This cultivar is sometimes known as Silene caroliniana var. wherryi 'Short and Sweet'