Pfaffenhütchen - plants, cut and multiply

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Although it is the Pfaffenhütchen a poisonous plant, it is still very much like to be planted in the garden. Especially because it is so easy to care for.


The Pfaffenhütchen is one of the spindle tree plants and is also referred to as an ordinary spindle tree. The summer green shrubs reach stature heights of about three meters. Older plants can take on a tree-like growth and even grow up to six meters high.

The Pfaffenhütchen is an easy-to-care plant, which, however, is toxic in all its parts of the plant and was voted plant of the year in 2006. The plant is hardy and a popular ornamental tree. Not only the summer flowering is attractive, the plant captivates also by its colorful fruits and the atmospheric foliage color in the autumn.

The Pfaffenhütchen in the mirror of the history

Excavation finds in pile dwellings made it clear that the plant was already known thousands of years ago and probably also used as a crop. From the middle of the 13th century a narrative of the monk Caesarius is handed down. In his "Wunderbuch" the seed was mentioned as a vermin defense.

Otherwise, the plant also known as Pfaffenkäppchen or Pfaffenkapperl plays in traditional folk belief a rather subordinate role. In Bavaria, in many places, a planting of shrines can be observed. This is very likely due to the spiritual equivalent of the plant name.

In earlier times, the plant also had significance for folk medicine. The effect of the Pfaffenhütchens is described as diuretic, heart strengthening and wound healing. Plant extracts were used against headaches, wounds, heart failure and as a laxative.

The spread of the Pfaffenhütchens

The Pfaffenhütchen is predominantly native to Europe. Mainly it is to be found in Central Europe. To the north, the range extends to the south of Scotland, southern Sweden and Ireland. In the south, the plants are spread to Sicily or northern Spain. The entire distribution area extends along the northern hemisphere. Mainly the plants grow in East Asia and in the Himalaya area.

The plant also occurs in the mountainous regions of the Caucasus. Usually, the plants can be found up to about 800 meters in altitude. In the Allgäu Alps Pfaffenhütchen were even found up to 1,100 meters above sea level. There are about 180 species of antelope in the world.

The Pfaffenhütchen is poisonous!

The spindle shrub is poisonous in all its parts of the plant. The most poisonous part of the plant is seeds. There, the occurrence of cardenolides and alkaloids is particularly high. The bark contains tannins, phlobaphene and bitter substances.

Those who consume the seeds of the Pfaffenhütchens must expect nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting. Depending on the amount consumed and the general constitution may also heart muscle weakness, a swelling of the liver or a circulatory collapse be the result. Particularly at risk are children, who are attracted by the fruits. Excessive consumption can cause death. The treacherous: may take several hours before the first signs of poisoning occur.

When does the priest's hat bloom?

Between May and June the Pfaffenhütchen is in full bloom. The inflorescences appear on the up to three inches long inflorescence stem. An inflorescence may contain up to six flowers and attract beneficial bees. When the orange and string-hanging fruits are released, magpies, thrushes or red-crested chicks will gratefully accept the food. Not for nothing the plant is also called "robin bread".

So plant the Pfaffenhütchen correctly

Pfaffenhütchen are frugal plants that make little demands on their environment. The plant can cope with any normal garden soil and tolerates even heavy soils. The plant forms dense fine roots, which do not penetrate too deep into the soil. A planting is therefore not recommended. Of advantage are group plantings. The plants can pollinate each other and thus bloom all the more abundantly.


In the nature the Pfaffenhütchen grows at edges of forest or in light deciduous forests. In the immediate vicinity of privet, dogwood or honeysuckle arise atmospheric compositions. Basically, the Pfaffenhütchen can be native to any location. The only enemy of the plant is darkness. If the plants are shady, the leaves appear less colorful and noticeable. The Pfaffenhütchen should therefore always be bright. A sunny location will not only make for a rich flowering, but also the foliage color will be more impressive in autumn.Here again the ideal location in keywords:

  • bright
  • a lot of sun
  • warm
  • Partial shade possible, but then growth and flowering are reduced

❍ floor:

Also in relation to the substrate, the Pfaffenhütchen proves to be less demanding. It generally prefers a loose bottom. A too heavy and damp soil gets the plant less. Whether you have chosen the location right, shows in bloom. The soil should be nutrient-rich and calcareous. Since the plant does not tolerate waterlogging, you should always choose a dry rather than damp soil. To create a porous floor, you can add sand to the clay soil. Here is the ideal substrate again in key words:

  • dry soil
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • calcareous, humus rich substrate
  • sandy soil
  • loose ground
  • low salt soil

❍ plants:

Deciduous varieties should generally always be planted in winter. Evergreen species, however, in the spring. Since the plants grow about 20 centimeters per year, the planting distance should be about half of the planned plant height. The best way to plant is as follows:

❶ First of all you have to water the root ball sufficiently.
Großzüg Then lift the planting hole generously.
❸ Next, add humus as fertilizer.
❹ Finally, insert the plants and gently tap the soil.
Nun Always pour abundantly in the growth phase.

You can also plant Pfaffenhütchen in the pot. However, the flat root requires sufficient space in the planter. If the roots start to protrude from the pot, you should repot the Pfaffenhütchen.

So pour the Pfaffenhütchen right

The plant tolerates prolonged dryness, but you should not neglect the casting, especially if a rapid growth is desired. If the upper layer of soil has dried, it should be watered. For longer periods of drought, the plant will display hanging leaves that it is thirsty. Always pour lime water and avoid standing water. Incidentally, a layer of mulch protects against dehydration of the soil.

If you cultivate the plant in the pot, daily watering is necessary. From the beginning of September you can reduce irrigation.

So the Pfaffenhütchen is properly fertilized

The Pfaffenhütchen does not need any artificial fertilizer. For particularly lime-poor soils, you can improve the soil quality with commercial liquid fertilizer in the growth phase. The fertilizer can be added to the irrigation water every two weeks. In general, the plant is sufficiently supplied with nutrients when you work in the spring and autumn compost or horn shavings as a natural slow-release fertilizer in the soil.

Is a pruning of the plant necessary?

This depends on the space available and on which growth height is desired. If you tolerate the wide and bulky growth, no pruning is needed. If you want to shape the bush or cultivate it as a hedge, a regular blend is essential. Disturbing branches should definitely be removed regularly. A pruning can stimulate the growth of the plants and is useful in spring or before winter. You should do a radical pruning better in spring than in autumn.

The flowering takes place on two-year wood. If you ignore this when pruning, you will have to expect fewer flowers.

How can the Pfaffenhütchen be multiplied?

Pfaffenhütchen flowers

❍ Propagation by seeds:

To gain seeds, you must harvest the fruits before they jump up. Then you should keep it in a dry place. Then the seed capsules will open soon. The seeds must then be removed from the seed coat. Then you can sow them immediately. If this is not possible, the seeds can be stored for several months in peat or sand even at temperatures near freezing. After sowing, more than ten months can often pass before the first plantlets become visible.

❍ Propagation by cuttings:

The propagation by cuttings you should prefer the sowing, since this method is crowned with more success. You can cut the shoots in early summer. The length should be about twelve centimeters. You should remove flowers or fruit stems and shorten the leaves by 2/3. Then grow the cuttings in seed soil and water regularly. About three months later, successful breeding is rewarded by the first new shoots. The plants can now go outdoors, but in the first winter they need protection from leaves or brushwood.

What should be considered during wintering?

Adult plants are winter-proof and survive even tougher frosts. Young plants are more susceptible and should be protected accordingly. Even potted plants need a protected winter location. It is better, however, if you bring them into the house.

Keep a small cap as a bonsai - That's how it works

Although the plant is very well suited as bonsai, the trade is limited. However, in a bright, outdoor location, the bonsai will develop well and convince with a rich flowering and attractive fall coloration. The bonsai from domestic species of apes is even hardy and tolerates temperatures down to -20 degrees.

If you want to get your bonsai into shape, you should start new shoots early. The wood quickly reaches a certain hardness and the shoots can then no longer be bent without breaking. The plant grows quickly and can always be cut into shape.

Every two to three years, it makes sense to repot the Pfaffenhütchen. At the latest, when the fiber roots protrude from the bonsai shell, it is time for a new vessel. When repotting, you must then immediately cut back the roots.

Detect and combat diseases and pests

The plant is generally quite robust. However, they can not tolerate waterlogging. It weakens the plant, making it vulnerable to fungal attack. By appropriate choice of location and appropriate care measures, the plant can be kept largely healthy. However, you should take a closer look at some of the pests and diseases, as an infestation is occasionally observed.

❍ Filzgallmilbe:

These pests nest under the leaves. There they provide themselves by sucking the cell juice. The underside of the leaf is covered with a white surface and also the tops of the leaves lose their color and appear yellowed and pale. An extensive infestation is shown by an early leaf fall. In general, however, the felt-mite mite is harmless and there is no need for measures to combat it.

❍ Scale insects:

Far more difficult is infestation with scale insects under control. Scale lice are visible to the naked eye. The infestation is in the form of round, brownish elevations and white, worm-like processes. With a strong infestation helps only the radical pruning. Extremely affected plants should be completely cut back. On the other hand, they can scrape off the scale insects from the leaves in case of a slight infestation.

❍ Pfaffenhütchen spider moth:

The scapegoat spider moth attacks the shrub relatively frequently. The oviposition takes place on the branches. The caterpillars overwinter in the branches and attack the leaves after their sprouting in May. In the summer they cover the whole plant with a web. In July, the robes pupate and after about two weeks hatch only about two centimeters large butterflies.

The fight is made more difficult, the infestation is usually not recognized in time. When the spines become visible, the entire plant is usually already affected. The caterpillars can be collected or removed with a hard jet of water. You can also cut back the plant. However, the cut waste does not belong to the compost. They must be disposed of airtight over the household waste.

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