Monday, July 8, 2013

Bouncing Betties Blooming

The bouncing betties are blooming.  The following is the write up I posted May 14, 2010.

This plant tucked in the corner by our air conditioner is no maintenance.  I got starts from my mother-in-law.  She dug some up, threw them in a plastic bag and sent them home with me before I had the place to plant them ready.  I left the bag sit on the patio for at least a week occasionally watering them.  I think all you need to get this plant to start is a piece of root that hasn't gotten completely dry.  Once I planted the starts, they settled right in.  It gets white and pink flowers in the summer.  I have to uproot some once in a while because they start creeping into other plants, but I never water it or anything.  In the spring, I knock down the previous year's stems and go on.  My MIL called them "Bouncing Betties."  Try googling that!  I found out it is a soapwort with a bit of foklore.  According to Bob Johnson (Founder of HerbFest; a 10 day lifestyle festival featuring herbs, perennials, free herbal seminars, recycling, cooking with herbs and a daily duck parade for the kids held annually in Wake Forest, N.C.),  the story of this plant goes something like this:  In our country's early formative years the West was being claimed by the "Easterners" and the trail from East to West Coast could take many a month and sometimes years to complete.  The winter months were especially harsh as one approached the mountainous areas so most groups would settle in and make a permanent camp to spend the winter or actually in some cases a couple of years. This break became a time to plant crops, resupply and get ready for the next leg of the journey.  One of the customs was to leave behind something useful for the next wagon train of pioneers coming after you. You might call it a useful welcoming gift.  One of the early pioneers started a trend and her name was Betty.  She knew the ladies had to find a way to clean the clothes etc. so she would take some cuttings from her Soapwort plant and plant several soapworts for the next group coming after her. Betty started a new chapter of herbal lore and legend.  Soapwort was used as a laundry powder/cleaner in pioneer days. It actually creates a cleansing soap and when the ladies were washing the clothes they would go break a branch of soapwort to use to clean the clothing.  Everywhere Betty camped she left an abundance of new soapwort plants.  Over time the plant became known as the "Bouncing Betty" plant in her honor for planting everywhere she camped before bouncing to a new location.

I think the flowers are sweet.


  1. I've never heard of "Bouncing Betties" -- what a great name! And what a great story for a prairie plant!

  2. What a neat story about the origin of the name of this flowering plant.

    The blooms are sweet. I'll have to see if it will grow this far south.

    Happy gardening and have a great week ~ FlowerLady

  3. I've seen this growing in the wild before, but never knew the history behind this plant before. Very interesting!

  4. I've never heard that bit of folklore before and I love it! Thanks for sharing it.

  5. That's an interesting story about Betty. I don't know if it's true, but I like it. I also like no-maintenance plants.

  6. What a neat story.... AND your Bouncing Betty's are GORGEOUS. I do love the little flowers... Thanks for sharing.

  7. i forgot all about this plant. I used to have it in a former garden. Interesting story I had never heard.

  8. Great history lesson on this cute plant! Thanks.

  9. Mine are blooming too. .thanks for sharing them!!

  10. I've heard of soapwort but I've never herd them called Bouncing Betties. Great story! She was a smart lady. :o)

  11. I had this plant in my first garden, it drove me crazy bouncing around , taking root all over the garden. Great story.

    1. Funny. It can spread. I think our drier conditions keep it contained better.

  12. I like the plant, will try to find some. I like to read the stories about plants. The Daisy has a good one. Betty was a thoughtful lady. The planting of things on the way west was a great thing to do.


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