Silene regia, ½-pint plug
Exposure: Full sun – partial shade
Soil: Medium – medium dry
Mature Height: 4 feet
Description: Plant this mid-summer red stunner in between finely textured grasses like prairie dropseed and little bluestem. The name catchfly comes from the fact that insects are often stuck all over the stems. A close look will reveal why. Sticky glands cover the plant and small insects alighting upon it often become fatally trapped. There has been much speculation over this. Some even believe it to be a primitive form of carnivorous behavior. In fact, the order to which this species belongs also contains true carnivorous plants like sundews and venus fly traps. However, despite containing digestive enzymes, Royal Catchfly does not obtain any nutrients from its victims. Why bother producing these glands then? Some hypothesize that the sticky hairs are there to keep hungry insects from feeding on the plant. After becoming stuck, the insects inevitably die. This presents another challenge for the plant. It isn't healthy to have rotting insects stuck all over it. This is where the digestive enzymes come in. They quickly breakdown the insect bodies, keeping them from becoming putrid. Royal Catchfly is rare due to loss of prairie habitat and is endangered in some states but is relatively easy to grow. The bloom period is July-August for this excellent garden plant
Attracts: The nectar of the flowers attracts the larger butterflies, such as Papilio polyxenes asterias (Black Swallowtail), and the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.