Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.
Silene virginica L.
Fire Pink, Scarlet Catchfly
Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family)
USDA Symbol: SIVI4
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Fire-pink is a weak-stemmed, 1-2 ft., short-lived perennial with long, narrow, opposite leaves and bright-red, tubular flowers. Five petals flare out from the flowers’ tubular bases, and each petal is notched into two, sharp-pointed lobes. Bright red, long-stalked flowers bloom in loose clusters at tops of slender, weak, or reclining stems.
A common name for members of this genus is Catchfly, which refers to the sticky hairs or exudates which trap insects. Another species with bright red flowers is Royal Catchfly (S. regia), found in Midwestern prairies and dry woods; it has short-stalked flowers, with petals that are only slightly toothed or untoothed, and thicker leaves. Fringed Pink (S. polypetala) has pale pink flowers with conspicuously fringed petal ends. It is more heat tolerant than S. virginica.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Usually 1 feet tall. Taller stems tend to recline.
Leaf: Green. Reddish green in winter.
Flower: Flowers 1.5 inches across
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Typically blooms mid-spring, but may continue to mid-summer.
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , VA , WI , WV
Native Distribution: NJ to s. Ont., s. to FL & OK
Native Habitat: Open, moist or dry woods; rocky slopes
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Well-drained, rocky, acid soils. Poor soils preferred.
Conditions Comments: Fire pink grows well on lightly disturbed ground. It does not do well in deep shade, needing dappled light.
BenefitUse Ornamental: Intense red flowers in dappled shade in eastern North America.
Use Wildlife: Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Seeds attract juncos, pine siskins, sparrows, water pipits, and horned larks.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Propagate by seed or cuttings. Seeds can be sown outdoors immediately after collection or stored, pretreated and sown later. Divide mature plants in late fall or early spring by removing outer rosettes.
Seed Collection: This plant declines quickly after flowering so it is best to flag the plant. Seeds mature 2-3 weeks after the bloom period. Vigorous plants may have flowers and dehisced capsules at the same time. Mature capsules should be swollen, pale green or tan, and split readily when pinched. Refrigerate in sealed containers.
Seed Treatment: 3-4 weeks of cold-moist stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Because it is a short-lived perennial, it is a good idea to start a few new plants each year.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Native wildflowers for Northern Indiana
May 08, 2007
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on Saturday April 21. What a beautiful place. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I was wondering how I could find out w...
view the full question and answer
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Silene virginica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Silene virginica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Silene virginica
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-10-28
Research By: TWC Staff