Silene Species, Flower of Bristol, Jerusalem Cross, Maltese Cross, Scarlet Lighning, Scarlet Lychnis

Silene chalcedonica

Family: Caryophyllaceae (kar-ree-oh-fil-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Silene (sy-LEE-nee) (Info)
Species: chalcedonica (kalk-ee-DON-ee-kuh) (Info)
Synonym:Agrostemma chalcedonica
Synonym:Lychnis chalcedonica
Synonym:Lychnis fulgida



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone



Bloom Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama

Midland City, Alabama

Montevallo, Alabama

Weaver, Alabama

Juneau, Alaska

Palmer, Alaska

Seward, Alaska

Merced, California

Sacramento, California

Sierraville, California

Willits, California

Fort Collins, Colorado

Littleton, Colorado

Loganville, Georgia

Moscow, Idaho

Chicago, Illinois

Plainfield, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Evansville, Indiana

Fishers, Indiana

Greenville, Indiana

Davenport, Iowa

Urbandale, Iowa

Barbourville, Kentucky

Ewing, Kentucky

Falmouth, Kentucky

Hebron, Kentucky

Calais, Maine

Springfield, Massachusetts

Wakefield, Massachusetts

Owosso, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Stephenson, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota(2 reports)

Dillon, Montana

Helena, Montana

Laurel, Montana

Blair, Nebraska

Swanzey, New Hampshire

Freehold, New Jersey

Albany, New York

North Tonawanda, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Sapphire, North Carolina

Bucyrus, Ohio

Norman, Oklahoma


Portland, Oregon

Tangent, Oregon

Mc Keesport, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Irene, South Dakota

Amarillo, Texas

Austin, Texas

Salt Lake City, Utah(2 reports)

Sterling, Virginia

Bellevue, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Spokane, Washington(3 reports)

Spokane Valley, Washington

Trentwood, Washington

Fremont, Wisconsin

Marinette, Wisconsin

Menomonie, Wisconsin

Pulaski, Wisconsin

Casper, Wyoming

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 10, 2019, Sown_ja from Willits, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Many things to love!
Hummingbird (and butterflies) favorite, and tall enough to avoid capture by cats.
Deadheading (Moscow, Idaho) yielded 2nd & 3rd bloomings, but smaller heads. Could try midseason feeding of compost tea?
Nice cut flower.
Perennial that doesnt run; easy to collect seeds/allow to self-sow.
Needs full sun or will flopbut can tie up or cage.
Im now in Zone 8b, Mendocino County, CA. Am going to try planting seed on-site in Sept. Hoping that mule deer won't like, but will put down tangle of bird mesh to discourage them. Re the Sierraville comments (and after looking at locations & climates of other Comments), Maltese Cross might be stressed by hot dry Calif summers. I'm going to plant in partial afternoon shade, and wi... read more


On May 31, 2017, Fifty from Dilke, Saskatchewan,
Canada wrote:

I live in Saskatchewan, Canada in the middle of the prairies. My hubs and I found this plant as a dying sprig being thrown out at a garden centre. We brought it home, planted it, cared for it, talked to it, sang to it, fed it, watered it and generally willed it to live. It did. The next year it bloomed. I let it go to seed. The following year there were babies coming up all over the area around the mother plant. I let them go to seed. Now the entire area covering about 10 square feet in the corner of my garden under my Oak and Lilac trees is covered in these flowering stalks every year. I keep them dead headed and they bloom all summer. I let the last blooms of the fall go to seed and the following spring I have a mass of greenery and then a mass of lovely red flowers all summer. I ... read more


On Jun 27, 2013, bluesway from San Juan, PR wrote:

These are all over Puerto Rico and they're very low-maintenance plants. They're mostly used as hedges and the can be very uniformly trimmed as such. My neighbor's hedge is trimmed about every three weeks and it stands at about 7 feet tall... And completely full and beautiful.


On Feb 22, 2012, rudiw from hoogezand,
Netherlands wrote:

this plant is a favorit plant of mine, "burning love" is the name too for this plant. The plant is most of the times overfed, in my opinion the plant needs almost no nitrogen , otherwise you get an ugly plant imo : long stems and almost no flower.
The best results i saw were on sandy soil, the plant will be then 50 cm maximum, with some phosphor the flowers do extra good and will give a ball of flowers like a tennisball.
She loves to stand alone a little bit, if you forget the plant a few years, grass etc will win the competition and the plant wil disappear, i grow her for over 20 years, she is my favorit plant, as a standalone with a green background or in a big field of plants , IT IS A REAL EYE CATCHER!
But my advise is give no or not much food, not much water, and ... read more


On Jun 19, 2010, vicjim from Sierraville, CA wrote:

Love this plant for its bright red color. My experience has been that of Jody - a one time mid summer bloomer. I deadhead faithfully but can only get it to bloom once a year even though many say it blooms till frost. Any suggestions?


On Sep 23, 2009, jerry31557 from Patterson, GA wrote:

Such a beautiful flower that is a hummer magnet with its beauty. I was drawn to this plant by its name, The Jerusalem Cross, hence Jerusalem was and is and always will be the Holy City of GOD.


On Mar 22, 2008, penpen from North Tonawanda, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Maltese Cross is a very good perennial hummer plant for those of us in colder zones and oh so easy to grow.


On Feb 6, 2007, Bellisgirl from Spokane, WA wrote:

I love this plant!! Ive had it for about five years now. It is an upright plant with gorgeous blood red flowers. Needs well drained soil. Mine also need ample water when its hot out. Ive had several volenteers come up from it. The ones I have in partial sun grow to over 4ft. tall; much larger than the ones in full sun.


On Jan 27, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

This has such beautiful clusters of bright red flowers that everyone takes notice (and wants a start)! It self seeds itself in some of the most interesting places. My information says it is hardy in zones 3-10, and it will do well in partial sun. Light aids germination of seeds. Blooms May-July in my garden.


On Sep 4, 2005, Aerowox from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

In the early 1900's, my grandmother brought seeds from Lychnis Chalcedonica to America from Bessarabia, South Russia and Wittenberg, Germany. The plants are now well established in my mother's garden, which is zone 3 in south-central North Dakota. I also live in zone 3, east-central Minnesota, so I collected seeds to plant here next spring.


On Jan 17, 2005, LilyLover_UT from Ogden, UT (Zone 5b) wrote:

Lychnis chalcedonica is one of the absolute best hummingbird flowers!


On Jul 12, 2004, annaks from Grande Prairie,
Canada wrote:

Lychnis chalcedonica grows very well here in zone 2B too. It self seeds enough for transplants and gifts, but not too much. Mine do not fall over, unless they are stepped on. (I have kids.) They look striking next to my purple Lupines and Campanula glomerata, yellow Anthemis tinctoria (Golden Marguerite sold to me as Matricaria, and even worse, twice!), blue Linum peronne, and Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox eye daisy, blush;} , considered a weed here in Alberta, but I like them). They are best viewed from a slight distance as the older flowers darken and dry up. They begin blooming early July. The first year they are cute little 1-2 foot seedlings, but do not be fooled, they will grow 3-4 feet in the future. Plant en masse for best show.


On Jun 29, 2004, saya from Heerlen,
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:

I just love this colour..such a beautiful red. We call it here "..brandende liefde.." what means "..burning love.." and this name suits her well. I've sown a white form of this burning burning love...I cannot imagine that..only in mystical way maybe..If I have flowers I'll post some pics of these too.


On Jun 23, 2003, octofad wrote:

One of the best, most fiery shades of red you are likely to come across in such an easily grown garden plant (grows extremely well here in Northern England). I wouldn't be without it. Currently also growing it from seed - seed took about two weeks to germinate in damp compost. I have had no problems with the plant falling over; mine are very robust and contrast very well with pink Valerian and yellow Hemerocallis.


On Jan 9, 2003, Weezingreens from Seward, AK (Zone 3b) wrote:

Maltese Cross performs very well in our zone 3 climate. It withstands our wet, long winters, returning each year to bring dazzling color to my beds. It grows vigorously here, requiring division every two or three years, and will take over the bed, if allowed. This plant tends to fall over, rest on its stem, then grow upward again, so full height potential is not often realized without staking.


On Jan 12, 2001, jody from MD &, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

The genus Lychnis is related to Silene. Maltese cross has been grown by gardeners since at least the seventeenth century. It usually is a bright orange/red but there are varieties of pink, white and double flowers but aren't as common. It flowers for a short time in early summer. It grows to a height of 4'. Best cultivated in sun with well draining soil. Deadhead to promote more flowers. Hardy zones 4-10. Propagate by seed or division.