If you are looking for a robust, easy-care and hardy ground cover, the wall germander is the right choice for you. Here you can find tips for planting and care.
Profile of wall germander:
Scientific name: Teucrium chamaedrys
Plant family: mint family (Lamiaceae)
Other names: symphytumoot
Planting time: Spring
Flowering period: June to August
Location: sunny to partially shaded
Soil quality: stony to sandy, nutrient-poor to moderately nutrient-rich, low in humus
These information are for temperate climate!
Use as a medicinal herb:
Use as spice herb:
Use in: flowerbeds, ground cover, borders, group planting, apothecary garden, flower garden, natural garden, prairie garden, rock garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 5
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of wall germander
Plant order, origin and occurrence of wall germander
The wall germander (Teucrium chamaedrys), belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae). It used to be counted among the genus of veronica. You can find it wild all over Central Europe, for example on lime-poor grasslands, dry meadows and rock steppes or in sparse oak and pine forests. The whole plant smells aromatic.
Wall germander was used as a medicine in ancient times for breathing problems, later also for diseases of the digestive organs, gout and menopause. In the meantime, the uncontrolled internal intake is considered dangerous because the ingredients of the wall germander are said to damage the liver. Externally, it continues to be used for envelopes, such as for poorly healing wounds.
Characteristics of wall germander
The perennial and hardy plant grows, depending on the location, 15 to 35 centimeters (6 to 14 in) high and grows as a summer-green to winter green subshrub. This means that the shoots are more or less woody in the lower area, herbaceous in the upper area. The plants form deep roots and lots of runners. In the trade, however, under the name Teucrium chamaedrys you will often find a wintergreen garden variety and not the wild one of the same name, which is usually recognizes by the additional “hort.” or “horticultural”in the name.
The short-stemmed, coarse leaves of the wall germander are dark green and sometimes reddish. They are usually hairy on both sides and are two to five centimeters (0.8 to 2 in) long. With their oval shape and notched edges, they are reminiscent of oak leaves. They usually fall off towards autumn. Depending on the location, region and climate, the plant can also be wintergreen, meaning that the leaves remain attached to the shoots until new shoots occur.
The purple-pink lip-shaped flowers appear in raceme-like inflorescences between June and August. They are very popular with insects of all kinds because they are rich in nectar and pollen. The wall germander sometimes sows itself and spreads in the garden. It is difficult to control this by pruning, since the first seeds already fall out when other blossoms open.
The seeds sit in so-called schizocarp-fruits, which can be spread by the wind thanks to an air-filled shell.
Wall germander – cultivation and care
Sunny locations in the garden are ideal for the wall germander, but partial shade is also tolerated.
As at the natural site, Teucrium chamaedrys also wants well drained to stony soils in the garden, which must not be too nutritious. The plant also prefers calcareous locations. Once it has grown strong the wall germander can withstand drought without any problems, even if it lasts longer, thanks to its deep roots.
Place the wall germander in the bed at a distance of about 35 centimeters (14 in) from each other or from other plants. If the plants are to form a low hedge, they are moved closer together, to 20 to 25 centimeters (8 to 10 in). It can theoretically be planted all year round, but spring is ideal, especially in areas where winter protection is necessary. Wall germander looks best arranged in small groups.
The runners-forming wild form can easily be multiplied by dividing it. Sometimes there are seedlings in the garden or you take the ripe seeds from the plants and sow them in the desired spot. The garden form and the varieties can be easily reproduced by cuttings. You can cut them off in spring or after flowering and put them in the ground or in pots with a mixture of soil and sand and plant them after rooting.
There is no need to fertilize or water the plant.
The wall germander forms slightly woody shoots and can therefore be easily brought into shape with secateurs. Since this variety has only a few branches, the plant remains nice and compact for a long time.
- prune all shoots in autumn
- to a length of approx. 10 cm (4 in)
- displant all the disturbing runners
Wall germander as a hedge
Because of its good shapeability, wall germander is popular as a low hedge, for example as a bed border. The hedge, like individual specimens, is severely shortened in autumn and cleared of runners. In addition to reducing the height, the hedge is pruned from all sides in autumn.
If shape cuts are to maintain a clear contour throughout, pruning has to be done twice a year. Then there will be no flowering.
If a wall germander does not have to have a certain shape, it does not necessarily have to be pruned. However, as the years go by, it can become increasingly bald because little light gets into the interior. At the latest then the plant should be cut back radically to 10 cm (4 in) so that it then sprouts fresh.
Diseases and pests
Wall germander are very robust plants that have no problems with pests, snails or plant diseases.
In very cold areas and in severe winters, protection with brushwood or leaves is advisable.
Use in the garden
The wild species, which is widespread by runners, is often used as a flat ground cover or as a border – but be careful in small gardens or where space is limited. The garden variety makes beautiful low edging hedges. Both types fit in rock gardens, on gravel areas or in beds with permeable soil. As a planting partner, there are, for example, bloody crane’s-bill (Geranium sanguineum), wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare), hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), lavender cotton (Santolina species) or lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). Small woody plants such as red barberry (Berberis thunbergii ’Atropurpurea Nana’) and garland flower (Daphne cneorum) also go well with this.
Varieties of wall germander
There are some varieties available. The approximately 30 centimeter (12 in) high variety ‘Christine’ flowers light pink with purple bracts. Similar in size but with a white pile, ‘album’ shows up. There are also compact varieties that only reach about 15 centimeters (6 in) in height, such as ‘snowflake’ and ‘Hannes’ (both pure white), ‘Nanum’ (purple) and ‘Pain de Sucre’ (dark pink with dark stems). The evergreen, purple-pink blooming Teucrium x lucidrys, a cultivation between Teucrium chamaedrys and Teucrium lucidum, also shows up compactly.