Bouncing Bet ( saponaria officinalis )

Bouncing Bet (saponaria officinalis) has long been known as a craft herb, cosmetic herb and a household herb, due to its long standing use as a cleaning agent. All of the Saponaria genus contain saponin in their stem and leaves, a substance that lathers when agitated in water. The leaves are used as a basis for shampoos. The saponins act as water softeners and act as a gentle wash for damaged hair and sensitive skin, as well as treating acne, eczema and psoriasis, thus acting as a cosmetic herb. As a craft herb saponaria officinalis is used for potpourri. The rhizome contains a richly lathering saponin and it is said that when boiled in lime-free water it produces a soapy liquid for cleaning old fabrics, tapestries and lace. Bouncing Bet is also known as Soapwort, Soaproot, Latherwort, Crow Soap , Wild Sweet William and Fuller’s Herb.

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Climate and Light: Bouncing Bet loves the sun, but will grow in partial shade.

Soil: Saponaria officinalis prefers well-drained soil.

Water: Bouncing Bet will grow in low to high moisture.

Growing Habit: Saponaria officinalis is a hardy perennial with pink or white flowers. Bouncing Bet blooms from spring to fall, and reaches around 30 inches counting the flowers. Soapwort blooms from July to September.

Propagation: For propagation Soapwort can be seeded in the fall or the roots divided in the spring.

Harvesting and Storing: Pick and dry the flowers of Soapwort at anytime for potpourri. Use the flowers fresh of Latherwort for salads.

Companion Plants: Latherwort has no companion plants.

Remarks: The name ‘Bouncing Bet” seems to have come from the usage of branches of Bouncing Bet to clean beer bottles by barmaids in times in England. The barmaids were generally called Bet or Betsy.

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