Common Names: Bistort, Fleece Flower.
This flowering herbaceous perennial plant is native to Europe and north and west Asia.
The Latin name bistorta refers to the twisted appearance of the root.
There are varieties suited to rock gardens, borders and marginal pond or bog garden plants.
They bloom from late spring into autumn, producing tall stems ending in a single terminal 50–75 mm (2"–3") long raceme of rose-pink or white bell-shaped flowers.
This attribute makes them attractive to bees, hoverflies and butterflies.
Close up of Flowerhead
To extend the flowering season regularly deadhead faded spikes.
If you wish you can shear the foliage down to ground level after the first flush of flowers, this procedure will often produce a fresh crop of leaves and encourage the plant/s to bear a second crop of flowers in late summer.
This plant is well suited to most soil types but prefers moisture retentitive soil in full sun or partial shade.
Under exceptionally dry conditions plants can go semi-dormant and lose their foliage, which reappears when moisture levels return to normal.
Using them as a marginal pond or bog garden plants usually alleviates this situation.
The most common practice to increase stock is by 'Division'
Divide the plants in early spring or autumn. (Circa 12 or Week 38)
Do this by digging up and replanting healthy sections every 2 or 3 years.
This method should keep the clumps in check and avoid the centre dying out.
Germination can be quite erratic, however subjecting the seeds to a stratification period can often help!
Seeds can be sown in late winter/late spring or late summer/autumn. (Circa 12 or Week 38)
Week 8-10: Sow seeds in trays of a proprietory seed compost and cover them with a thin layer sifted compost then place them into a fridge for 4 weeks then bring out and place in a frost free area to maintain a temperature of around 4°C (40°F) to germinate.
Week 12: Sow seeds in trays of a proprietory seed compost and cover them with a thin layer sifted compost then place in a propagator set to give a temperature of around 18 to 22°C (64 to 71°F) to germinate.
Week 38: Sow seeds in trays of a proprietory seed compost and cover them with a thin layer sifted compost then place them into a fridge for 4 weeks then bring out and place in a coldframe over the winter monthsto germinate.
In all cases keep the compost moist but not wet at all times.
Similarly: As mentioned above germination can be quite erratic so be patient and do not give up hope too soon as germination can take any time between 1-3 months subject to the method used.
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 75mm (3") pots containing a good potting compost.
Gradually harden off seedlings for a couple of weeks before planting them out at least 30cm (12") apart after the last expected frosts.
Pests & Diseases:
These plants are generally pest and disease free.