Chistets — Mr. Congeniality


One day, walking down the street past one of the front gardens, I noticed an unusual plant with silvery pubescent leaves.

Surprisingly, the extremely modest leaves in the array formed a beautiful contrasting background for the rest of the plants.

Its name was unknown to me and I had to use the hint of the Internet.

After a short search, it turned out that this plant has many names (stakhis, chistets, sheep’s ears, snake grass), many species (more than 300) and a wide range of applications.

In decorative culture, several species with fluffy silver-colored leaves are used. In folk medicine, wild medicinal species are popular. And there is also a species that is cultivated as a garden crop.

The most common type of stakhis is woolly, also known as Byzantine. It is he who forms a beautiful velvet rug. However, during the season, the picture will definitely change: the plant will throw out long peduncles and open very small flowers. It is customary to use the flowering part for cutting in bouquets, as a spectacular contrast.

At the end of flowering, the withered part should be cut off so that the planting retains its decorative effect.

You do not like that the silver rug will lose its original appearance over time? Breeders took care of gardeners and created different varieties according to the type of needs. More on this in the next section.

Stakhis is not particularly demanding on soils, but one condition is necessary — loose and without stagnant water. The poorer the soil, the smaller and silverier the leaves will be. The best fertilizer is organic, be it compost, humus or manure.

For watering, this plant is undemanding and easily tolerates drought. But a highly decorative rug will turn out on slightly moist areas.

It likes sunny places, but can also grow in partial shade. Winter-hardy, it does not need to be covered. But if the winter turns out to be rainy with frosts, then it can partially freeze out. To avoid this, you can plant the plant on a site with a slight slope.

One root, as a rule, forms an open bush. Over time, the layering takes root, and the center of the bush loses its decorative effect and “balds”. Therefore, periodically the cleaner is transplanted or the middle part is cut out with a shovel and young individuals are planted in it.

Chistets woolly (Byzantine) (Stachys byzantina = lanata)

  • Habitat: Transcaucasia, Iran, Turkey, southern Russia and Ukraine.
  • Height: leaves up to 15 cm, peduncles up to 60 cm.
  • Flowering period: June-September.
  • Color spectrum: silvery leaves, lavender flowers.
  • Growing conditions: loves the sun and drained soils, hardy without shelter.
  • Peculiarities: the leaves are white-pubescent on both sides, the inflorescences are spike-shaped, the flowers are small.
«Silver Carpet» (photo on the right)Sheila Macqueen (photo below) undersized (up to 15 cm) varieties that do not bloom, or bloom with single low flowers.

An excellent choice for those who have no time to engage in a flower garden.

Pharmacy Chistets (Stachys officinalis)

  • Habitat: central Russia, Crimea, the Caucasus, Western Siberia, Central Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean.
  • Height: up to 100 cm
  • Flowering period: June August.
  • Color spectrum: purple
  • Growing conditions: grows in meadows, on the edges of the forest, mainly on carbonate soils.
  • Peculiarities: grown for medical purposes, used infusions and decoctions.

Chinese artichoke, related (Stachys affinis)

  • Habitat: China.
  • Height: up to 45 cm.
  • Tuber collection period: October.
  • Color spectrum: white and light red flowers.
  • Growing conditions: gives a good harvest even on poor soils, the best collection in partial shade or in moderately wet areas.
  • Peculiarities: grown as an annual vegetable crop, the tubers are boiled, fried, pickled.

Depending on the illumination, stachys has different forms of growth. In a sunny area, it feels more comfortable and blooms, throwing out tall flower stalks. And in shading it does not bloom and remains an undersized ground cover. This feature can be used to obtain the desired effect in the flower garden.


The pubescent, silvery leaves contrast very favorably with both dark greens and bright flowers.

With the help of a silver spot, you can mark the edges of the mixborder, emphasize the beautiful bend of the path, garden sculpture, or simply shade an array of plants of a different species.

Drought-resistant properties and compatibility with stone texture make it possible to use a cleaner for landscaping alpine hills and rockeries.

An array of chistets, designed in the form of a bed, will refresh that part of the site where this form of landing is acceptable.


First of all, chistets is a beautiful background for garden plants, whether they are shrubs, herbs or flowers. But given its color and properties, it is worth choosing the same winter-hardy, unpretentious and drought-resistant species in its environment.

The creeping form suggests a neighborhood with plants that form high clumps. In the photo: a chistets at the foot of the kupena.
Of the flowering species next to the stakhis, medium-sized daisies, bluebells, garden geraniums, sage, allium are good, in general, everything that blooms modestly, without overshadowing the inconspicuous inflorescences of the chistets.

If a variety of stakhis throws out a tall peduncle, then low decorative deciduous plants, for example, soft cuff, geyhera (especially purple varieties), some host varieties, etc., will fit it in a pair.

Feel free to combine a cleaner with stonecrops. Their ability to change color favorably sets off the silvery velvet foliage.


Stakhis is propagated by all means: seeds, cuttings, division.

Seeds are sown in open ground before winter or in containers in spring. After germination, the seedlings dive, and are planted in a permanent place only the next year. Planting interval 15-20 cm.

For rooting, cut off the lower part of the stems. But when planting in the ground, it is important to ensure that the soil does not dry out and does not become waterlogged. It’s pretty troublesome. Much easier to do rooting layering.

But the most carefree way to propagate stakhis is to divide an adult bush. The procedure is performed in early spring, late summer or autumn.

The Chinese artichoke (Stakhis related) is cultivated from the tubers.

The optimal time for transplanting this plant is early spring and autumn, when the soil is sufficiently moist.

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