Pechnelke, Silene viscaria - Sowing, Planting & Care

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Pechnelke - Sowing, Planting & Care The Pechnelke (Lychnis viscaria) is a perennial, bushy growing wild shrub that comes from the family Carophyllaceae. Since it comes originally from the Mediterranean, it is suitable for heather gardens, for green roofs, as hardy garden shrubs as well as decorative cut flower. The plant usually blooms from May to August in a strong fire or chimney-red and reaches a height of approximately 40 to 50 cm.
There are about 25 different Lychnis species in addition to the common Catchfly. For example:
  • Alpine carnation (pale purple to bright red flowers)
  • Crown-carnation (dark red, large flowers)
  • Cuckoo's carnation (red, oblong-pointed flowers)
  • Jupiter carnation (pale purple to flaming red flowers, white-wooled hairy)
  • Scarlet Clove (orange to fire red canary flowers)


The optimal time for sowing the seeds of the Catchfly are the months of February to May. The germination period is about 10-20 days with a germination temperature of 18-20° C. It should be ensured that the seeds are slightly pressed during sowing, they are always moist and under no circumstances be covered with soil, since the plant is a light germ.
Once the plant grows, it can be planted in the bed. For this purpose, no more than 10 plants per square meter should be set and a distance of 30 cm should be kept. However, it can also be grouped in small tuffs. Then over time it forms extensive clumps, which can cover even large areas.


Silene viscaria

Pechnelke is a relatively undemanding plant that needs little care at optimal locations.
With regard to the soil, a normal garden soil with slightly acidic to lime-poor soil is sufficient. It is best to have a sunny location where there is full sun for more than half of the day. It feels most comfortable in shrubbery, forests and fields, as well as other dry places such as sandy loamy soil. In addition, waterlogging on the ground must be avoided, but the earth must not dry out and should always be fresh.
The flowered inflorescences should always be cut back in the spring hand height (about 5 cm). The plant should also be cut back every year after the main flower (but still before the maturity of the seeds). This can prevent excessive self-sowing, and even if no second flowering is expected, it promotes healthy plant renewal.
Outdated, old-growth plants should not only be cut back, but also divided, so that the willingness to flower and its lifespan can be increased.
The Catchfly should also be watered regularly. Since it can not tolerate lime, use rainwater if possible. Care should be taken never to pour in full sun, but always in the morning or evening hours. In addition, the soil should occasionally be loosened to avoid waterlogging. Even without rainfall for several weeks, the plant usually tolerates no damage, but it only becomes problematic when the plant shows signs of dryness, such as very dry, hanging or wrinkled leaves.

Silene viscaria

Since the Catchfly is often sensitive, it should only be fertilized moderately. Fertilize in spring and late June should use a liquid fertilizer, as a granular fertilizer could be left on the leaves, causing burns to the plant. In older specimens often fertilization in spring is sufficient. Both organic and mineral storage fertilizers can be used, but care should be taken that it works for a long time and reaches a height of 40-50g / m2 to promote optimal growth and flowering.

Special features of the Catchfly

  • wintergreen plant
  • Tractive plant for bees and butterflies
  • one of the most intense flower colors among native wild plants
  • Catching can strengthen the defenses of plants in their immediate environment and thus have a positive effect on their growth and resistance



  • Type / Family: Perennial. Belongs to the family Clove Family (Caryophyllaceae)
  • Care: Low. Undemanding and easy-care
  • Flowering period: May to June with flower spikes consisting of loosely arranged medium sized simple but mostly filled flowers in purple pink
  • Foliation: Narrow graceful foliage
  • Growth: Upright, slightly bushy
  • Height: 30 to 90cm
  • Location: Sunny. Nutrient-rich, rather dry, open and low-limy soil
  • Planting time: Anytime as long as the soil is not frozen
  • Cut: near the ground in spring
  • Partner: Dwarf Gypsophila
  • Care: Water regularly but avoid waterlogging
  • Wintering: Winter hardy
  • Illnesses / Problems: Tolerates lime only badly, so it is best to rain with rainwater


  • Also called Common Catchfly and Filled Flowering Catchfly
  • Fits very well in the heather garden
  • Can also serve as a bedding enclosure
  • Is closely related to the Campion (Silene x arkwrightii, Syn. Lychnis x arkwrightii) and Burning Love (Silene chalcedonica, Syn. Lychnis chalcedonica)
  • Should strengthen the resilience of their surrounding neighborly plants
  • Popular nectar source of bees, bumblebees and butterflies

Varieties (selection)

'Fire: Flowers from May to June with simple bright purple pink flowers
Plena: Delighted with filled flowers


The plant was given the German name because of a pitch-like dark, sticky substance which protects the common fallow-leaf on the stems as protection against e.g. Forming aphids

Video Board: Silene viscaria, flowering plant.

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