Fire Pink is one, if not the most, bright red wildflower found in Indiana. Though a short-lived perennial, it leaves a lasting impression to those that look forward to catching a glimpse of it during the warm summer months.
Though fire pinks can grow 1-2 feet high, its weak stem often gives the wildflower the appearance of bowing at one's feet. The red, tubular flowers have five petals, each flaring out from the middle and are accented by its long, narrow opposite-placed leaves. You can catch these showy flowers in bloom anywhere from late April to late July.
Fire pink adds a vivid color to the foliage of rocky wooded slopes, open woods and to your own backyard. Silene virginica prefers anywhere that offers partly shaded light and poor, well-drained soil making it perfect for home gardens. This wildflower attracts a diverse group of pollinators to your backyard including the ruby throated hummingbird as well as various species of beautiful butterflies. Check your local nurseries for seeds as flats may not be available.
An interesting characteristic of fire pinks are the sticky hairs found on the stems and calyx. The tacky parts of the plant act as an adhesive that traps small insects like ants from climbing up and taking their sweet nectar.
Type: perennial, herb
Size: ~ 1 feet tall
Root Type: tap
Leaf Complexity: simple
Leaf Color: green; reddish green in winter
Fruit: capsule, colored tan
Flower Size: 1.5 inches across, tubular
Bloom Color: bright red
Bloom Time: April - August
Bloom Notes: typically blooms mid-spring; may continue to mid-summer
Water Use: low, medium
Light Requirement: part shade
Soil Moisture: moist, dry
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; does not like deep shade
Benefits: ornamental; attracts wildlife
Benefits Wildlife: flowers attract hummingbirds, butterflies; seeds draw birds like sparrows and larks
February 20, 2013