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Soapwort seedsSaponaria officinalis
Brought to North American by the European colonists, who used it as a laundry and wool soap, soapwort has washed clothing since the ancient Romans and is still a handy plant for spinners. It's useful as a gentle detergent (cuts grease and fat) for silk and linen and can also get glass and china clean. The flowers have a spicy scent (which explains one of the common names, dog's cloves) and are especially aromatic in the evening, attracting attracts sphinx and hawk moths (who also love the daturas). Some sparrows eat the seeds, but mammals avoid the plant on account of its saponin content, which is also what makes it soapy. Midsummer leaves and fall-harvested rhizomes are the soapiest, and they can be harvested and dried for later use. One part soapwort to 12 parts water is a good ratio. Dried roots might need to soak for an hour before releasing their soap. Then agitate the water and strain. Use within a day or so. Fresh soapwort makes the water green, but it's not a dye--will wash out in the rinse--and won't harm fibers. Its pH is neutral instead of alkaline, like regular soap, and gentler than regular soap. It's good for magical cleansing and in ancient times was used to repel witchcraft, probably on account of its cleansing abilities. Soapwort root In ancient Mesopotamia, soapwort was named in an incantation to break a witchcraft spell: "May the soapwort that fills the Earth cleanse me." (T. Abusch, Babylonian Witchcraft Literature, 1987). This magic herb is related to campion (Lychnis) and catchfly (Silene) and associated with the sign of Aquarius for obvious reasons, but in spite of that, don't plant it near ponds, as it is toxic to fish. Good for magical cleansing, especially baths, and associated with Venus on account of its previous use for skin stuff. It is also known as bruisewort, scourwort, crowsoap, soaproot, soaproot gentian, herba fullonum (fuller's herb), herba lanaria (wool herb), bouncing bet, sweet betty, hedge pink, old maid's pink, Boston pink, lady-by-the-gate, and mock gilliflower.

How to Grow Soapwort
This seed needs cold stratification to germinate. Wet a paper towel and wring out. Sprinkle seeds and fold towel shut, pressing gently. Put into a thin plastic baggie, leaving top open, and set outside in a protected place, like an unheated garage, unheated sunporch, or shed, for the winter, or put in the fridge for three months (but it will germinate better with the temperature fluctuation of outdoors). When the seeds germinate, transplant to pots and harden off. Transplant to outdoor full sun. It gets 18-24"/45-60cm tall and 9-12"/22-30cm wide and is a perennial hardy to zone 5  (-20F/-29C). It reproduces through both self-seeding and creeping rhizomes, spreading somewhat aggresively in areas without a harsh winter, so if you want to contain it in warm winter areas, plant it where it is surrounded by lawn or in a pot. General growing info

Sapoaria officinalis
50 seeds $3.75

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Use in Witchcraft & Magic:

Venus Herb

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