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A picture of a Common Soapwort

Common Soapwort

Saponaria officinalis

Also known as

Wild Sweet William, Soapwort, Bouncing Bett, Boston Pink, Bruisewort, Chimney Pink, Crow Soap, Devil In A Bush, Farewell To Summer, Flop Top, Fuller's Herb, Gill-Run-By-The-Street, Hedge Pink, Lady By The Gate, London Pride, Mock Gilliflower, Old Maid's Pink, Old Maid's Slipper, Sheepweed, Soap Plant, Soap Root, Soapwort Gentian, Sweet Betty, Wood Phlox, World's Wonder, Bouncingbet Soapweed

Saponaria officinalis by Kirisame (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Light watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








3 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Common Soapwort

A close up of some white pink Saponaria officinalis flowers
A close up of some pink flowers on a Saponaria officinalis plant
A photo of Common Soapwort
A photo of Common Soapwort

Common Soapwort Overview

Saponaria officinalis is a hardy perennial from the Caryophyllaceae family. It grows from underground rhizomes and spreads with a clumping habit. This plant is frequently called Common Soapwort, Soapwort or Wild Sweet William, amongst many other names. Leaves are oval, it produces upright, scented pink-white flowers from summer-autumn. Common Soapwort may become invasive under ideal growing conditions. This plant doesn't have any pest problems as it produces its own soapy insect repellent which prevents any insect attack. Saponaria Officinalis can suffer from fungal problems if given the incorrect growing conditions. To prevent this it should be planted in a well-draining soil and it tends to thrive in low nutrient soils.

Common problems with Common Soapwort

Common Soapwort Companion Plants

Grow with low growing shrubs, early summer annuals and meadow flowers.

How to harvest Common Soapwort

Leaves, flowers, stems and roots can be harvested throughout the year.

How to propagate Common Soapwort


The easiest method to grow this species is by digging up the rhizomes and re-transplanting them at a depth of 3 - 5 cm and space them 30 cm apart.


Seeds can be sown at a depth of 5 mm and space them 10 to 20 cm apart in late winter.


You can propagate from seeds in the spring or autumn or from cuttings in early summer.

Special features of Common Soapwort

Attracts useful insects

Attracts insects such as bees and butterflies.

Drought resistant

This plant is a hardy plant that doesn't require a lot of water to survive.

Pot plant

Great for large pots placed in any sunny spot.

Attractive flowers

Other uses of Common Soapwort

Domestic, cosmetic, insect repellant

The plant roots were once used to make a natural detergent.


It has historically been used to clean delicate or unique textiles. A lathery liquid that has the ability to dissolve fats or grease can be procured by boiling the leaves or roots in water. Take a large handful of leaves, bruise and chop them and boil for 30 minutes in 600 ml of water; strain off the liquid and use this as you would washing-up liquid.


Despite its toxic potential, Saponaria officinalis finds culinary use as an emulsifier in the commercial preparation of tahini, halva and in brewing to create beer with a good "head".

Pink Flowering Summer Plants

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