Sticky catchfly – planting, care and tips

Flower of sticky catchfly
Flower of sticky catchfly - by Ivar Leidus

Unattractive name – great qualities. Sticky catchfly are great plants for the rock garden and for the hillside garden. Read here how you can properly plant and care for the flower.

Profile of sticky catchfly:

Scientific name: Silene viscaria

Plant family: pink family or carnation family (Caryophyllaceae)

Other names: clammy campion, German catchfly

Sowing time: from February

Planting time: spring to autum

Flowering period: May to July

Location: sunny

Soil quality: saydy, nutrient rich, humus rich, sensitive to lime

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, flower meadows, embankments, roof greening, planters, overgrowth, flower garden, roof garden, heather garden, natural garden, potted garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 4 (-34 °C / -25 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of sticky catchfly

Plant order, origin and occurrence of sticky catchfly

The common sticky catchfly (Silene viscaria, formerly Lychnis viscaria) belongs to the genus of campions (Silene) and is part of the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae). Sticky catchfly are common all over Europe to Turkey and immigrated to the USA as neophytes. In some countries the plant is endangered in some areas.

Characteristics of sticky catchfly


Sticky catchfly grow persistent and herbaceous. Their stems reach heights of between 30 and 60 centimeters (12 and 24 in). Their stems and upper parts of the plants are sticky – hence the name sticky catchfly or clammy campion.


Clammy campions form a basic leaf rosette, which remains green even in winter. The leaves are opposite on the stem. Their shape is lanceolate, they are slightly hairy and ciliated.


The early summer bloomer shows its pink to purple flowers between May and July, which are arranged in the form of a loose raceme. The flowers are dioecious sexually separated, radially symmetrical and five-fold. Bees and butterflies like to fly to the bright flowers.


Capsule fruits form between June and July, which dry out when ripe and then scatter their seeds with the wind.

Sticky catchfly – cultivation and care


Sticky catchfly prefer a full sun location. Their natural locations are forest, field and meadow edges and the heathland.


For planting clammy campion the soil should be slightly acidic and poor in lime. They thrive best in a fresh, nutritious, loose soil and prefer the soil rather to be dry than too wet. The delicate plants do not tolerate waterlogging at all.

  • slightly acidic, pH 5-7
  • low in lime
  • nutritious
  • fresh
  • loose and permeable
  • without waterlogging

In order to prepare a non-ideal soil for the planting, heavy soils, for example, should be loosened well and mixed with sand or gravel to make them more permeable. Calcareous soils can be enhanced by mixing in humus and compost.

Sticky catchfly (Silene viscaria)
Sticky catchfly (Silene viscaria) – by Ivar Leidus


Sticky catchfly can be planted all year round as long as there is no frost. However, spring and autumn are ideal.

A planting distance of about 30 centimeters (12 in) should be maintained so that the plants can grow accordingly and not hinder each other’s growth. If Silene viscaria is to be planted over a large area, 10 plants are planted per square meter (10sq ft).

Since the sticky catchfly is supposed to strengthen the immune system of the surrounding plants, it makes sense to plant it together with other perennials, which thereby benefit from the plant. Because it has been proven to contain so-called brassinosteroids, which have a positive effect on the growth of plants.


Regular watering with low-lime containing water, such as rain water, is necessary for very well drained soils and for planting containers.


Fertilization is done moderately in spring and summer with compost or liquid fertilizer for flowering plants.


Sticky catchfly are absolutely easy to care for. Flowered inflorescences should be cut off from time to time. After flowering, the plant is cut back close to the ground. The leaf rosette should remain as winter protection.


Sticky catchfly can be propagated both by sowing and by division. If you do not cut off the flowering inflorescences, the plants seed themselves in the bed. Those who want to cultivate the plant from seeds should start in February. Sprinkle the seeds on the soil and press them lightly as they need light to germ. Keep the substrate slightly damp and place the bowl in a bright, warm place at around 20 °C / 68 °F. After about 14 days, the seedlings appear. After the last frost in spring, the young plants can be transferred to the bed.

Sticky catchfly can be divided in late summer. To do this, carefully dig out the whole plant and divide it into several sections with a spade. Then plant them again as quickly as possible at the new location.

Diseases and pests

As a wild plant, the sticky catchfly is extremely robust against diseases. The plant fights off pests with its sticky, pitch-like secretion around the stem and flower.


Sticky catchfly are hardy down to -34 °C / -25 °F and perennial. Container plants can be overwintered outdoors with appropriate winter protection. For this place them on some wooden blocks and wrap in fleece.

Use in the garden

In the near-natural garden and heather garden, the sticky catchfly should not be missing when designing the bed. It can also be used for hillside planting. In dry locations they can be overgrown in wildflower meadows. Clammy campion are also suitable for planting pots or for greening garage and shed roofs. It is also recommended as a cut flower.


Due to the brassinosteroids they contain, sticky catchfly are so-called Samaritan plants. An extract or brew is plant-strengthening and has a preventive effect on other plants against brown rot and mallow rust on hollyhocks. As a planting partner, Silene viscaria has a positive influence on the health of the neighboring plants in the bed. In the vegetable patch, it prevents the development of mildew on cucumbers and gray mold on tomatoes.

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