Himalayan bistort – info, planting, care and tips

Himalayan bistort (Bistorta affinis)
Himalayan bistort (Bistorta affinis)

Himalayan bistort is a versatile and low groundcover plant with pink flower candle-like flowers. This is how to plant and care for it.

Profile of Himalayan bistort:

Scientific name: Bistorta affinis; synonyms Polygonum affine, Persicaria affinis

Plant family: knotweed family (Polygonaceae)

Other names: fleece flower

Sowing time:

Planting time: spring

Flowering period: July to September

Location: sunny to partially shady

Soil quality: sandy to loamy, nutrient rich, humus rich

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, flower bouquets, ground cover, group planting, pond planting, borders, cottage garden, flower garden, heather garden, natural garden, water garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 (-32 °C / -25 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of Himalayan bistort

Plant order, origin and occurrence of Himalayan bistort

The Himalayan bistort (Bistorta affinis) is a plant species within the genus of Bistorta, which in turn belongs to the knotweed family (Polygonaceae). Originally Bistorta affinis comes from the Himalayan region. It is also know as fleece flower.

Characteristics of Himalayan bistort


Himalayan bistort is a fast-growing perennial that forms runners and can quickly cover larger areas. The plant develops decumbent and branched shoots and grows only between 20 and 30 centimeters (8 and 12 in) high.


The wintergreen leaves of fleece flower are narrow-elliptical to lanceolate. They sit directly on the stems and turn rusty brown after the first cold days in autumn. The perennial sheds this distinctive leaf color again with the new shoots in May.


The blooming period from July to September makes Himalayan bistort a valuable perennial for late summer. The numerous flowers stand upright in terminal and dense flower spikes. They are first white, then bright pink.


After flowering, Himalayan bistort forms inconspicuous inflorescences of fruit in the form of nutlets.

Himalayan bistort – cultivation and care


Himalayan bistort thrives in both sun and partially shady areas. In shady locations, it blooms less overall than in sunny places.


As for the substrate, the plant prefers fresh, moist soil. Sandy-loamy soils are best suited to the needs of Himalayan bistort. Calcareous substrates are also well tolerated. The soil pH should be in the neutral range at 6.5 to 7.5 points.


The best time to plant Himalayan bistort is in the spring. Choose a planting date so that there are no more late frosts. Loosen the soil deeply and remove all soil obstructions. A light base fertilization of humus and compost will also give the plant a good start. The plant can grow up to 60 cm (24 in) wide. Therefore, make sure to provide adequate plant spacing of at least 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 in). There should be no more than 5 to 7 plants per square meter (10 sq ft).



For proper care the moisture-loving Himalayan bistort should be watered regularly. Lack of water in this plant quickly leads to wilting leaves. Therefore, regular watering is necessary, especially during dry summer months. For this purpose, you can also easily use tap water containing lime.


In terms of fertilization, the ground-cover plant is not particularly hungry for nutrients. A handful of compost spread around the roots during the flowering period is sufficient. Alternatively, other organic fertilizers such as horn shavings can be used.


A pruning of the Himalayan bistort is not really necessary. Nevertheless, you can do it if necessary. To do this, cut back all wilted flower stems close to the ground in the fall after flowering. Only the foliage should remain on the plant for better winter protection. In addition, the reddish colored autumn foliage of Bistorta affinis is also quite decorative.


For rejuvenation of the plant, as well as for propagation, a root division is suitable for Himalayan bistort. To do this, dig up the perennial in the spring and divide the rootstock into two equal parts with a spade or sharp knife. Then you can plant the sections directly back to the desired location in the garden bed.

Diseases and pests

Bistorta affinis is robust to plant diseases and pests.


Himalayan bistort is hardy down to -32 °C / -25 °F. Only recently cut plants need a little cover with brushwood against black frost in winter.

Use in the garden

Himalayan bistort looks beautiful in front of taller perennials, to small woody plants and on the tops of walls. It also looks good at the water’s edge, although you should then only combine the plant with equally vigorous perennials. Suitable partners are bellflowers (Campanula), bonesets (Eupatorium), meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and buttercups (Ranunculus) as well as grasses such as maiden silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensis), moor grass (Molinia) and giant sedge (Carex pendula).


Himalayan bistort is available in some exclusive cultivars. Some of them have been awarded the so-called Award of Garden Merit (AGM). The British award honors plants that are particularly suitable for garden culture in the UK due to their good resistance. The AGM varieties are:

  • ‘Darjeeling Red’
  • ‘Donald Lowndes’
  • ‘Superba’

In addition, there are several other cultivars that are also predestined for cultivation in the garden. Basically, the varieties differ in their individual flower color, leaf color and growth habit. In addition, in some cases, the height of growth also differs. Below is a brief overview.

  • ‘Darjeeling’
    • pink to dark purple flower spikes
    • lanceolate leaves
    • cluster-forming growth
    • height of growth from 15 to 20 cm
  • ‘Dimity’
    • pink to dark purple flower spikes
    • dark green leaves, red autumn foliage
    • bushy, cluster-forming growth
    • growth height from 15 to 25 cm
  • ‘Donald’
    • pink flower spikes
    • strong green leaves
    • flat growing
    • growth height from 10 to 25 cm
  • ‘Kabouter’
    • red-white flower spikes
    • dark green leaves, red autumn foliage
    • low growing
    • height of growth from 5 to 20 cm
  • ‘Superba’
    • strong pink flower spikes
    • dark green, lanceolate leaves
    • bushy to horst-forming growth
    • growth height from 15 to 30 cm

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