Mylnyanka or Saponaria: how to plant and care in open ground

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Mylnyanka or Saponaria: how to plant and care in open ground
Mylnyanka or Saponaria: how to plant and care in open ground

Description of the soap plant, advice on planting and caring for a personal plot, recommendations for reproduction, methods of pest and disease control, facts to note, species and varieties.

Saponaria can often be found under a name similar to its transliteration - Saponaria. The plant is included by botanists in the Caryophyllaceae family. The genus united both perennial representatives of the flora and those with a one-year or two-year life cycle. There are about 30 varieties in it, characterized by a Eurasian distribution, but mainly the natural range falls on the lands of the Mediterranean. If we talk about Russian territory, then about a dozen of them are found here, while soapworms can successfully grow in more northern regions (for example, in Western Siberian regions). Many of these plants prefer rocky slopes and coastal areas.

Family name Clove
Growing period Long-term, two-year or one-year
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Breeding method Seed and vegetative (bush division, cuttings)
Landing period in open ground May
Landing rules Leave about 30 cm between the plants
Priming Fresh and dry, loose with a touch of lime
Soil acidity values, pH 6-6.5 (neutral)
Lighting degree Well lit, partially shaded, also possible in full shade
Humidity parameters Regular moderate watering in the heat, with normal rainfall - not needed
Special care rules Does not grow on damp and heavy soil
Height values 0, 1–0, 9 m
Inflorescences or type of flowers Paniculate-corymbose inflorescence
Flower color White, pinkish or red, purple
Flowering period June-September
Decorative period Spring-Autumn
Application in landscape design As a ground cover in rock gardens and rockeries, in mixborders and flower beds
USDA zone 3–8

The genus got its name in Latin thanks to the word "sapo", which translates as "soap", since the substance with which the roots of the plant are saturated (namely saponin about 35%), when shaken, contributes to the formation of a steep foam, which can provide them with a replacement for ordinary soap. You can often hear how the plant is called "soap root".

All types of soapwort are characterized by a herbaceous form of growth, while the stems in height in nature vary from 10 cm to 90 cm. However, in the garden plot, these parameters are much more modest and will not exceed half a meter. The color of the stems is greenish, but often a reddish tint is present. The root system has a strong ramification, but the central root is tap-shaped. On the shoots, entire leaf plates, devoid of stipules, unfold. The leaves are located opposite each other, they do not have petioles. The outlines of the leaf plate are most often lanceolate, there is a sharpening at the top, and towards the base it has a narrowing. The foliage is painted in a rich green hue.

During flowering, paniculate-corymbose inflorescences are formed in saponaria, in which each of the branches ends in a bud, while both the central axis and the lateral ones are equal in length. The petals of large flowers are white, pinkish or purple and reddish. In the corolla, there are five petals, characterized by elongated marigolds, there is also a so-called "crown", which is a crown, located at the base, where the petals are bent back. The outlines of the petals are entire or, in rare cases, they may have a notch at the top. There are up to five pairs of stamens in a flower. The calyx has tubular or bell-shaped outlines, the leaves are soldered in it. There are no sharp ribs in the calyx. The size of the diameter of the flower is 3 cm.

Flowering usually begins with the arrival of summer, but then, when summer rolls towards sunset or the first autumn days come, the plant will delight you with a new wave of flowering.

After the flowers of the soapwort are pollinated, the formation of fruits occurs, which are polyspermous capsules. The shape of the fruit is elongated, when the capsule is fully ripe, it will open by means of two pairs of teeth. The color of the seeds filling it is black, their structure is small-tubular. Usually, the ripening period of the fruits is extended in time, like flowering, but the last pods will ripen in autumn.

We can talk about the unpretentiousness of Saponaria, since the plant is easy to care for and even novice growers can handle it.

Tips for planting and caring for saponaria outdoors

Soapy flower blooms
Soapy flower blooms
  1. Landing place it is recommended to select well-lit by the sun's rays and open, since it is not afraid of direct sunlight. But if there is no way out, the soapwort bushes will be able to withstand light partial shade. During wintering, such plants will do without any shelter and protection. In too thick shade, although there will be development, you should not expect a lush flowering near the bush, and the stems will be very elongated and thinner.
  2. Soap soil it is not a problem to choose, since such a bush can grow on any soil mixture. However, dry and fresh soil is needed, but a heavy and too wet substrate is contraindicated. It is preferable that the soil is loose, well allowing moisture and air to the roots. Before planting, it is fertilized with a small amount of humus or compost and lime. The last operation is performed in the autumn or spring period every 5-6 years. To do this, dolomite or bone meal or slaked lime can be mixed into the substrate. When planting saponaria, it is recommended to provide high-quality drainage. Some growers, before planting, demolish coarse sand into the soil to ensure looseness or small pebbles.
  3. Soap planting. It is recommended to plant seedlings or seedlings in May, when the soil warms up thoroughly and return frosts recede. Usually, seedlings are transplanted by the transshipment method, that is, the earthen lump is not destroyed so as not to injure the branched root system. The distance between the bushes should be about 30 cm.
  4. Watering when caring for saponaria, it is recommended moderate, since any stagnation of moisture will negatively affect the root system, as it will provoke its decay. If there is a weather in which the amount of precipitation is normal, then irrigation is not carried out at all.
  5. Fertilizers when growing saponaria, it must be applied carefully, since an excess of nitrogen will negatively affect flowering. Like all alpine representatives of the flora, it will receive all the necessary elements even from poor soil. There will be enough nutrients especially if the substrate has been prepared before planting.
  6. General advice on care. After the flowering process in the saponaria is over, it is recommended to cut off all the stems of the bush by a third, which will ensure its compactness. The variety of Saponaria officinalis (Saponaria officinalis) must be cut off. Also, do not forget about weeding the soil next to the bushes from weeds and loosening the soil after precipitation or watering.
  7. Wintering of the soapwort. The plant in winter may be exposed to freezing or damping off under the snow cover. However, there is no need to worry, since saponaria is successfully restored from spilled seeds. This is especially true of the type of basal-leaf soapwort, therefore, in such plants, you can leave stems with seed pods for the winter. Since hybrid species are not so highly winter-hardy, it is recommended to cover them with spruce branches or dry foliage after cutting the stems; non-woven material, for example, spunbond, can also be used.
  8. Pruning for saponaria useful, since this operation will allow you to give the bushes a compact shape, as well as provoke a new wave of flowering. Cut off the stems after the inflorescences on them bloom. Also, timely pruning will protect against uncontrolled self-seeding. Pruning will help the plants prepare for wintering.
  9. The use of soapstone in landscape design. Spreading bushes of saponaria basilicolist (Saponaria ocymoides) are formed by shoots creeping above the soil surface, therefore the plant is planted to form "green rugs" in a separate flower bed or filling empty spaces between stones in rockeries and stone gardens. A nice decoration will be a soap dish on the slopes in the middle of a grassy lawn or curb. With such low-growing bushes, it is customary to plant saxifrage and yaskolka, iberis, sun's radiance, and sage. Plants of the "soap root" can be surrounded by plantings of roses or peonies, hydrangeas or dahlias, other representatives of the flora with a higher height of shoots will also act as good neighbors. It will help the saponaria to cover the bare ground next to them.

By planting a soap dish in garden flowerpots or pots, it will be possible to ensure the hanging of the stems and form cascading "hanging gardens" with their help. Cereals, ferns and aconites will look good next to the plantings of the "soap root". If you plant a saponaria under the window, then you have the opportunity to enjoy its fragrant aroma.

Read more about planting lyhnis in the open field and care rules

Recommendations for breeding soapworms

Soapy woman in the ground
Soapy woman in the ground

The soap root plant can successfully propagate with seeds, dividing a bush or rooting green cuttings.

Reproduction of soapwort by seeds

To grow new saponaria bushes, it is recommended to sow the harvested seed material in the spring or in the middle of autumn. If it is decided to grow seedlings, then the seeds are placed in soil, poured into seedling boxes in early March. You can use both common containers and small cups. Since the seeds are quite small, they are mixed with river sand, which will make them easier to sow. To make the mixture loose, it is lightly sprayed with warm water from a spray bottle. The seeds are spread evenly over the surface of the soil and powdered with dry sand. Since the size of the seeds is quite small, they should not be buried in the substrate, otherwise they may not sprout.

Germination is required at a temperature of about 21 degrees Celsius. At the same time, the crops are covered with a plastic transparent film, and the cover is not removed until shoots appear. After that, the film can be removed and the seedlings can be taken care of until two pairs of real leaves unfold on them. Then, if saponaria plants are planted in a common seedling box, then it is recommended to carry out a pick - transplant in separate cups filled with the same soil. It is recommended to use containers made of peat, which will facilitate the subsequent transplantation of seedlings to the flower bed.

Young plants of the "soap root" are recommended to be placed in a well-lit place so that the stems do not begin to stretch too much and become thinner. Only when the return frosts have passed, it is possible to transplant seedlings into flower beds. The distance between the seedlings is kept about 30 cm.

If you do not want to deal with seedlings, then the seeds of soapwort can be sown directly into the soil, but then October will be the best time for this. During the winter months, the crops will undergo natural stratification (keeping for a long time at low heat indicators), and in the spring, when the soil warms up, you can see strong saponaria shoots in the garden.

When the seeds are purchased, then sowing can be carried out in the spring, since such a seed has already passed pre-planting preparation. However, it is important to remember that germination requires a temperature in the range of 20-22 degrees Celsius. When the seedlings that appear get stronger, it is recommended to thin them out, leaving only the strongest specimens. The distance between plants is maintained at least as indicated above.

Propagation of soapwort by cuttings

To do this, you need to cut blanks during the spring-summer period from the upper parts of young shoots. It is advisable to do this while the saponaria bushes have not yet begun to bloom. All the leaves are cut from the resulting blanks, leaving only a couple on the top so that intensive evaporation of moisture does not occur from them. The cuttings are planted in pots filled with a peat-sand mixture, watered and placed in a shaded place. When the cuttings acquire roots, they are transferred by transplantation to a prepared place in the garden.

Reproduction of soapwort by dividing the bush

If the plant is quite mature, and besides, its size has become too large, then you can divide it into parts. Usually in this way, the rejuvenation of the saponaria is carried out. The spring-summer period is suitable for the operation. It is necessary to carefully dig in the bush and remove it from the ground. The excess soil is shaken off from the root system, after which it is divided into 2-3 parts using a sharpened knife.


Each of the soapwort divisions must have roots and always a growth point.

The cuts on the roots are abundantly sprinkled with crushed charcoal to prevent them from decaying, and the saponaria cuttings are immediately planted in a prepared place in the garden. The distance between plants should not be less than 30 cm.

Methods of pest and disease control when growing soapwort

Mylnyanka grows
Mylnyanka grows

The “soap root” plant has an enviable resistance to both diseases and pests. However, most often problems arise with the appearance of scoop caterpillars. This insect, the reticulated scoop, is a butterfly that occurs under the name Nightmare and belongs to the Lepidoptera family. When such butterflies fly out in droves between June and July, they lay eggs, from which caterpillars hatch over time. The seed bolls of saponaria serve as food for them. To remove these pests, it is recommended to spray with various insecticidal agents, of which there are a large variety on the market today, for example, Karbofos, Fitoverm or Aktara.

If we talk about diseases, then the main problem of soapwort is leaf spot, which has a fungal origin. Then on the foliage marks of a rounded shape of a yellow, brown or black shade appear. Cold and wet weather or too much watering provoke such diseases. So that the disease does not cover all large areas, it is necessary to remove all parts of the saponaria that have been affected and then treat with fungicidal properties (for example, Fundazole or Bordeaux liquid).

In the case when the disease has covered the entire bush, it is recommended to dig it up and burn it so that other "garden dwellers" do not become infected.

Read also about diseases and pests when growing gypsum

Facts to note about the soapwort plant

Blooming Soapy
Blooming Soapy

In addition to the use of saponaria in the landscape design of the garden, the plant, due to its saturation with saponins, is classified as a medicinal plant. A raw material called "soap root" is obtained from its roots. If we talk about a variety of medicinal soap (Saponaria officinalis), then it is used to make the so-called "red soap root". From the roots of this representative of the flora, soap was brewed for a long time, which did a good job with its direct responsibilities. This product is indispensable for washing pets and delicate woolen items.

For industrial purposes, saponaria is used for the production of confectionery products, which include all the same oriental sweets, namely the production of white Turkish delight and halva.

The beauty of the soapwort was appreciated by flower growers back in the 17th century, and it was from that time that its medicinal possibilities began to be studied. Healers prepared decoctions from the roots of the plant and prescribed them for patients suffering from infectious diseases of the respiratory tract. Such drugs were irreplaceable in the treatment of eczema or joint diseases. Even today, homeopaths use saponaria in medicines. They are recommended to be taken as a diuretic and diaphoretic, which also has expectorant properties and the ability to expel bile. It happens that decoctions from this plant are prescribed as a laxative or in metabolic disorders.


Soapy milk is a poisonous representative of the flora, therefore, an incorrectly used dosage can cause poisoning, the symptoms of which will be a headache, and then nausea and vomiting.

Saponaria decoctions have long been used to treat diseases of the spleen and liver. This solution is recommended to be poured into the bath water to eliminate skin problems, as well as for furunculosis and rashes. For eczema or scabies, plant-based lotions have been used. If a person is tormented by scaly lichen that does not respond to treatment for a long time, then healers are advised to use tinctures and lotions from the "soap root".

Description of the types and varieties of soapwort

In the photo Mylnyanka medicinal
In the photo Mylnyanka medicinal

Soapy medicinal

(Saponaria officinalis), which is often referred to as Common soapstone … The native area of distribution falls on the territory of Europe and Asia Minor, the plant is found in the Caucasus and the Mediterranean, as well as in the West Siberian region. You can also see it in the Balkans. Perennial has a herbaceous form of growth. The height of the stems is approximately 30–90 cm. The shoots form a loose bush, which seems to be spreading along the sides. The leaves have a pointed tip at the top, but in general the leaf blade has an oval-lanceolate or elliptical shape. Three veins are clearly visible on the surface.

Flowers bloom from early summer to late summer. Their size is large, the buds are crowned with short pedicels. The color of the petals is both white and pinkish. The petals may have solid outlines or have a notched limb. When opened, the diameter of the flower reaches an average of three centimeters. When flowering, a fragrant pleasant aroma is heard far away. A few flowers form a paniculate-corymbose inflorescence. After pollination, the fruits ripen - multi-seeded capsules. They have been cultivating this species since 1629. The variety is winter-hardy up to -29 degrees of frost. Prefers a cool location when growing.

The most popular garden forms are present:

  • Flore captivity hort (Var.flore plena hort) with a terry structure of flowers. The stems can reach up to a meter in height. Petals in flowers with a light pinkish tinge. Their diameter in opening is 2.5 cm long. The length of the inflorescence reaches 15 cm. The flowering process, which began in mid-summer, takes from 30 to 50 days.
  • Flore Pleno also characterized by a double flower shape, but the petals are painted in a creamy pink color.
  • Betty Arnold flowers, crowning elongated pedicels, have splendor, the color of the petals is pure white.
  • Variegata here the main decoration is leaves with variegated coloring of various tones of green color scheme.
  • Dazzler also a variegated variety, inflorescences with pink flowers.
  • Alba Plena, Rubra Plena and Rosea Plena are a group association, which is characterized by compacted inflorescences composed of flowers with petals of snow-white, pink or crimson colors.
In the photo Soddy Mylnyanka
In the photo Soddy Mylnyanka

Soddy soapwort

(Saponaria caespitosa) - a perennial plant characterized by a lignified base of shoots, which do not exceed 5–15 cm in height. Therefore, it is customary to grow the species as a ground cover crop. Flowering occurs in mid-summer and lasts until early autumn. Paniculate inflorescences are formed by flowers with pale pinkish petals, oval outlines. Foliage with a bare surface, elongated.

The species is winter-hardy, but not very common in our latitudes. For the winter period, it is recommended to protect the bushes from dampness. It can be used in rock gardens or stone gardens due to its small size.

In the photo, Basilicola Mylnyanka
In the photo, Basilicola Mylnyanka

Basilicum soap (Saponaria ocymoides)

The native range is in the mountainous regions of Southern Europe, the Alps. Prefers slopes well lit by the sun and rocky limestone soil. The plant, when flowering, reveals a large number of buds, while requiring little maintenance. It can form small green "pillows" with the help of stems, the height of which is 20 cm. Shoots, elongated, low-lying, covered with dull green foliage. The leaf plates are narrowed, oval or linear.

When blooming, flowers of a reddish-pink hue open, spreading a fragrant aroma. Their size is small, the corolla, when opened, takes on a star-like shape. Inflorescences in large numbers, the crowning forked stems have an umbrella shape. The flowering process stretches from the beginning to the end of summer. The species, although winter-hardy, is rapidly exposed to dampness from dampness. To eliminate problems in the winter, it is recommended to organize high-quality drainage. Calcareous soil is preferable. When grown in cold climates, it manifests itself as a perennial plant.

The most popular varieties are:

  • Rubra Compacta - a rather spectacular variety, which has flowers with bright pink petals, which make up multiple inflorescences, densely covering the stems.
  • Luxury (Splendens) resembles the previous variety, but the shade of the inflorescences is slightly more delicate.
  • Snow Tip characterized by snow-white inflorescences that stand out effectively against the background of bright green deciduous mass and stems.
In the photo Mylnyanka Olivana
In the photo Mylnyanka Olivana

Olivana's Soapy (Saponaria x olivana)

is a species bred by hybridization for growing in rock gardens, since the height of its bushes does not exceed 10 cm, while their diameter reaches 20 cm. lilac shade.

In the photo Mylnyanka Lemperdzhi
In the photo Mylnyanka Lemperdzhi

Lemperdzhi soapwort (Saponaria x lempergii)

It is also a hybrid plant, which is characterized by an average size of shoots varying in height within 40 cm. Stems are upright, characterized by strong branching, covered with narrow leaves. During the flowering period, their tops are decorated with single-growing flowers with five petals. Their color can vary from pale pink to dark lilac.

Related article: Tips for planting and caring for bryozoans in open ground

Video about growing soapworms on a personal plot:

Photos of the soap box:

Photo Mylnyanka 1
Photo Mylnyanka 1
Photo Mylnyanka 2
Photo Mylnyanka 2
Photo Mylnyanka 3
Photo Mylnyanka 3
Photo Mylnyanka 4
Photo Mylnyanka 4
Photo Mylnyanka 5
Photo Mylnyanka 5

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