Bouncing Bet Bounces Back

I bet you can’t say that real fast 3 times. 🙂 Anyhow, in June I posted about getting a really hard rain and my Saponaria officinalis (Soapwort or Bouncing Bet) had flopped over. If you look at the picture to the left you will see how leggy this pretty pink perennial can get with a wet spring. Well, in July I ended up giving it a severe haircut after the blooms had faded to rejuvenate it. I’m hoping to get some nice blooms sometime this month into the early fall. Hopefully this drastic trimming will make for a nice bushier plant for the remainder of the season. In the next couple of pictures you should be able to make out the grid support I have on top of the Soapwort. It does help tremendously with giving the center of the plant more support and somewhat keeps the plant (as long as I remember to adjust the legs as it grows) from flopping over in the mulch. The final photo shows not only has the plant recovered but looks healthier and fuller. Some interesting facts about this plant are the common name comes from the old time custom of using the roots of this plant for washing clothes. These roots contain a molecule called saponin, which will work just like detergent to dissolve grease or dirt. Saponin is edible and used as an additive in beer which helps it develop the head when poured. Saponaria officinalis is a great plant for rock gardens, banks and trailing over walls. They are hardy in zones 5-10 and need full sun as well as well drained soil. I have mine planted in a raised bed where they seem quite happy. They seem quite drought-tolerant too. They will spread rapidly if not kept in check. They also have a nice spicy scent and are attractive to bees. This was a pass-a-long plant from a neighbor years ago and it has been a reliable perennial in my garden.


16 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by tina on August 3, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I got this as a passalong plant from a friend last year and don’t know much about it. I was SO excited to see your title! Thanks for the info on it. Glad it bounced back.


  2. Posted by Beth on August 3, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I think a lot of perennials benefit from a good “haircut” in mid-season to get it rejuvenenated – I do this with salvia, silvermound and my catmint. This plant probably wouldn’t survive my zone 4!


  3. Posted by garden girl on August 3, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    It looks great! It’s amazing how you can rejuvenate a plant by cutting it back like that.

    I do a lot of pinching throughout the growing season for a variety of reasons including rejuvenating, delaying bloom on a few shoots to increase the bloom time, preventing legginess, curing legginess, encouraging rebloom, and starting new plants from the trimmings.


  4. Posted by ChrisND on August 3, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I like reading the uses and history of plants…so that was a great read.

    I have try cutting back a bit more in my garden I can think of a couple candidates that at least wouldn’t be harmed (and would probably benefit).


  5. Posted by OhioMom on August 3, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Great post! The lore and medicinal uses of plants is interesting, your great-great Aunt (Roberts) was a herbal healer.


  6. Posted by debbi/kurtsmom on August 3, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I love my little bouncing bet. I have not had any trouble with it becoming invasive, but it is sandwiched between some pretty tough neighbors. I have played with it and it really will make suds.


  7. Posted by Perennial Gardener on August 3, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Isn't that coincidential Tina! lol Glad my post was a good source of information for you. I think you will really enjoy this perennial herb in your garden. It's a great plant.

    I agree completely Beth! It gives them a new lease on life and a chance at some later season blooms too. I don't think it would survive in your zone 4 garden unless you had a area that was more protected. The hardiness is zone 5. Thanks for visiting!

    Not everything would recover from the severe haircut I gave this plant Gardengirl! She's a tough plant. I do pinching on my mums, salvia, and coreopsis. I prefer plants that are bushier and this seems to help. I always give my Sedums a good trim mid-way through the season too!

    Your welcome Chris. I find history on plants & their medicinal or practical uses in the past very interesting too. This is one tough herb. Impossible to kill! You'd be surprise how many plants really appreciate a good cutting back midway during their growing season and bounce back!

    Thanks Mom! I didn't know that about my great-great Aunt Roberts. How interesting is that! I love learning the historical/medicinal folklore on old garden plants. This herb has been around a long time!

    It is a great plant Debbi! You probably situated it in the perfect area between tough neighbors that probably curb it's wandering nature. It isn't highly aggressive. That is so cool that you actually tried making detergent with it. Suds? Cool!


  8. Posted by Susie on August 3, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I think Soapwort is a beautiful plant. We sold them at work this season. We also had them planted in a perennial bed at the nursery. They bloomed so nicely but flopped really bad. We did cut the ones back that didn’t sell and they are looking good and busy right now.


  9. Posted by Amanda on August 3, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I’ve been trying to get rid of the Bouncing Bet from my front garden all year – but it just keeps bouncing back! It is pretty and I’m fine with it elsewhere, but it is really invasive in my small front bed. I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely rid of it.


  10. Posted by Perennial Gardener on August 3, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    They are beautiful flowers Susie and seem to benefit from this midseason haircut to keep their habit nice & bushy.

    Unfortunately Amanda they can be quite invasive if given the chance to take over. I use to have these in another location where they really spread out of control. Where I have them now I am able to contain them quite a bit.


  11. Posted by Naturegirl on August 4, 2008 at 3:31 am

    That is one interesting plant! I also trim back some of the leggy plants and find that it looks neater for the rest of the growing season.
    I find those grids do help..I always placed them on my peonies..some how I neglected to put on my hydrangeas and as you saw …the rain certainly caused the branches to bend over and break!!
    Thank you so much for your generous comment on my last post and for sharing with me in your last post.
    hugs aNNa


  12. Posted by Perennial Gardener on August 4, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Thanks Anna. Those grids are great, I use them on my peonies and yarrow too. You are so very welcome about the last post. Take care! 🙂


  13. Posted by Anonymous on August 5, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    I’ve had such trouble trying to comment on your blog. My computer hates it. I’m at the library using theirs. I think I should try this plant. Full sun, well drained soil is right up my alley.
    Mr. McGregor’s Daughter


  14. Posted by Perennial Gardener on August 6, 2008 at 2:28 am

    I think you will really enjoy it MMD. It’s a great old fashioned herb. And it is easy to grow, you don’t have to baby it. Which is right up my alley. 🙂


  15. Posted by gardenpath on August 6, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I have started trimming back, oo.
    I did move my soapwort to the field this year. It looks good and stays up in the tall grass. I first read about it in pioneer stories. Still haven’t tried washing my hair with it, though.


  16. Posted by Perennial Gardener on August 7, 2008 at 9:24 am

    I bet it looks good in your tall grass in the field. I love plants that have a historical reference such as medicinal uses. Thanks for visiting GP. 🙂


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