Silver thistle plant, Carlina acaulis - care tips

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Silver thistle plant, Carlina acaulis - care tips: carlina

In meager meadows, in mountainous areas and at the edge of the forest, the silver thistle plant only sometimes adorns its surroundings. As rare as they are here, in the garden, the plant can grow lushly with proper care and spread widely. It is not particularly demanding, but it depends on the correct location and the appropriate measures to keep the perennial Carlina acaulis healthy with as little effort as possible.


The silver thistle plant prefers sunny locations, where it is warm and comparatively protected. Due to its maximum height of 30 centimeters, it does not take up too much space. However, if you cultivate a natural garden, you should allow the Carlina acaulis a little more area, as it is more likely to multiply and can close gaps relatively quickly. A planting place in the rock garden or near a wall is optimal. Shadow is also well suited, the thistle should not stand completely dark.


The silver thistle plant forms a proportionately long deep or taproot root. It therefore requires sufficient loose soil to spread and anchor in this accordingly. Apart from that, the substrate for the silver thistle should be loose, well water permeable, lean and have a basic pH. These claims are met by dry, sandy soil prepared with lime.
Tip: To be sure, the pH of the substrate should be tested before planting or sowing. For this purpose, easy-to-use test strips are offered commercially.

Pouring and fertilizing

Apart from the time to growth or germination, the silver thistle is extremely drought resistant. It therefore rarely needs additional watering. The pouring can therefore be limited to prolonged dry phases or the culture in the bucket. Casting with soft or hard water, lime is not a problem for the Carlina acaulis. Between the waterings, the substrate should be allowed to dry superficially, the thumb sample is a good guide. Since the silver thistle plant thrives mainly on limestone meadows or stony, lean substrates, less fertilizing is possible.

Silver thistle - Carlina acaulis

Basically, this can be completely dispensed with. However, there is nothing wrong with occasionally using organic means to provide an extra boost of nutrients. Suitable for this is untreated pond water, plant manure and compost. However, only in very small dosages and at long intervals. Alternatively, some fresh earth can be applied. As time is spring and summer ideal.

Culture in the bucket

Due to the rather compact size of the silver thistle, it can easily be cultivated in the bucket. However, it should be noted that the chosen container must be as high as possible. Otherwise, the root can not propagate correspondingly in the substrate. It should be about 25 cm high. The easy-care culture differs only slightly from the one in the bed. Only the casting is needed more often, since the plant in the earth is little supply available. With longer culture the earth should be changed every two to three years or the silver thistle should be repotted. A little less work prepares to fertilize in small doses every now and then. One to a maximum of two doses a year is enough. The repotting can then be quite wait until the earth appears to be used up.

Planting and sowing

The silver thistle plant can be planted or sown directly in the bed. Since it is relatively resistant to cold, it can be set free in April. For a strong and fast growth, however, the pre-germination in the house is recommended. The procedure is as follows:
  • 1. A plant pot as high as possible is filled with seed soil and thoroughly moistened. The substrate should be moist throughout but should not drip.

  • 2. The seeds are placed on the substrate and lightly pressed. Even a thin cover with sieved substrate is possible, but really should be done only very fine.

  • 3. The prepared planters are placed in a light, slightly warm place. The temperature should be around 20° C.

  • 4. Until germination, the silver thistles are poured in small intervals and in sips, so that the substrate is consistently slightly moist.

  • 5. Once young plants are visible, the intervals between the watering can gradually

    be enlarged.
  • 6. If the plants have reached a height of about ten centimeters, they may be placed outdoors or planted.

Tip: When emigrating to the bed or on the balcony, a mild day should be chosen so that there is not too much temperature difference between the two locations.


Silver thistle - Carlina acaulis

For the multiplication, apart from a little time and patience, nothing is necessary, because the silver thistle plant sows itself. Similar to the dandelion, the light seeds may end up in the immediate vicinity of the mother plant or the rear garden corner. Wind and animals spread the seeds quite efficiently. After successful germination, the plantlets can be dug up and placed in the desired location. Since they can be easily removed by pulling, a plague is not expected. In addition, such a very simple method of propagation is available. If you want to be more specific, simply place small bags over them and fix them before sowing the flowers. In this way, the light seeds fall into the cover rather than spreading in the area. Pre-germination then takes place as described above.


A blend is not necessary in the silver thistle plant and does not make sense. However, it is quite possible and advisable to remove damaged parts of plants or to use cut leaves for tea infusion. If you want to use the diuretic effect of Carlina acaulis, you should cultivate several plants for this purpose. In this way, the cultivation can be used for continuous harvest and the beauty of the plant can still be enjoyed.


The silver thistle plant is inherently frost hardy and survives winter without any further protection usually without problems. The prerequisite for this, however, is that it is at a suitable planting site. Conveniently, as already mentioned, a sunny and warm location. An additional protection against wind, such as by a wall or house wall, is favorable. In very harsh winters, the soil can still be isolated by mulch, straw or a pad of foil or fleece. In the bucket, however, the Carlina acaulis should not hibernate outdoors in the open, as they lack the protection of sufficient earth volume. For small pots, the simplest way to hibernate is to spend indoors. Here, the silver thistle should be frost-free at a temperature of up to 10° C. Complete desiccation of the earth is urgently to be avoided. For this purpose it is sufficient to check the substrate weekly and to pour it in sips if necessary.
ConclusionUndemanding and easy to care for, the silver thistle plant is not the most eye-catching but definitely an attractive eye-catcher. In the rock garden, the planned flowerbed or the natural garden, it can be cultivated just as easily as in the pot on the balcony. Due to its resilience, the Carlina acaulis is ideal for beginners and yet an unusual beauty.

Video Board: Carlina acaulis.

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