SOAPWORT (Saponaria officinalis), also known as Bouncing Bet (an old-timey descriptive of a washer woman), the name derives from the Latin for soap. It was brought over by European immigrants who used it as a soap substitute and it really works! Also used to be used in textile mills for its additional "fulling" effect on newly woven fabrics and still used today by museums for cleaning antique laces etc. Rich in saponins, simply crushing the leaves or boiling them in water produces a lather that cuts grease. Can also steep the roots in water for same and as a treatment for itching skin. The plant grows to 30" and is covered in summer with dainty, intensely fragrant pink or white blossoms. A gorgeous additional to your rockery! Perennial in zones 4-10. 50 Seeds.
MEDICINAL: Not only does soapwort have utilitarian value, it also was an important traditional medicinal both internally as a laxative and diuretic; and for personal hygiene and to treat itching skin, including poison ivy. Caution urged, however, as some list it as toxic.
GROWING TIPS: Seeds are dormant - a survival mechanism of wild plants that ensures germination occurs only when conditions are favorable. Many such seeds require a period of "cold stratification" to break the dormancy. So, if sowing directly outdoors do so in the fall by sowing in flats or pots, covering 3x thickness with soil. Press firmly, water and place container in garden, digging it partially into the soil so the temperature of the pot is consistent with the soil temp. Cover with mulch and overwinter. When germination commences in Spring, remove the mulch. If sowing indoors, you must replicate the cold stratification by placing the flat or pot in your fridge (not freezer) for 1-12 months) until germination begins. Once established, it may become invasive if not managed - just use your shovel to periodically ring around it cutting the runners.