The silver candle is the ideal flowering perennial for garden lovers who, despite the limited time, do not want to do without opulent planting in their ornamental garden. In addition, the up to 250 cm high Actaea racemosa thrives in tricky locations, such as along the partially shaded edge of tall shrubs and trees. From June to September, there are striking contrasts between the white, up to 60 cm long flower spikes in front of a dark backdrop. Anyone who keeps an eye on the countable aspects of species-appropriate care of the black cohosh will be rewarded with a garden beauty that will appear again and again over many years.

location and quality of soil

Locations in full sun and with dry soil, the silver candle likes to leave other garden plants. She feels more at home in locations with temperate conditions.

  • The perennial develops its optimal attractiveness in semi-shade or light shade.
  • With increasing shade, the dimension of their bloom decreases proportionally.
  • Slightly moist soil, humus and rich in nutrients without waterlogging.
  • Preferably in minimally acidic to neutral potting soil.
  • The Actaea racemosa easily tolerates a weak lime content.

As a result, black cohosh does not like to befriend extreme modalities in one direction or the other. This premise also applies to the wind conditions, which should be breezy but not drafty, which is usually the case in the shelter of a tree or a hedge.

Note: If the silver candle shows signs of deficiency, such as stunted growth and sparse flowering, that it is not doing well, it should be transplanted immediately to a shadier, damper place. There she will recover quickly.

watering and fertilizing

A substrate that does not dry out and vitalizing nutrients during the growing season; this hopes for a healthy, long-lived Actaea racemosa. If the hobby gardener complies with these modest wishes, the black cohosh will thank you with a long lifespan of 10 years and more in the same place.

  • Keep the soil constantly moist from spring to autumn.
  • Water ideally in the morning or evening on hot summer days.
  • Collected rainwater or pond water is better than tap water.
  • Fertilize repeatedly with compost during growth and flowering.
  • Unique organic-mineral rhododendron fertilizer in spring as an alternative.

It is recommended not to pour the water over leaves and flowers if possible, so that fungal infections don’t stand a chance. If the gardener decides to use liquid fertilizer, the agent must never be applied to the dry root area. It is advisable to water the silver candle beforehand and only then to fertilize it.

Anyone who takes the trouble to mulch regularly with grass clippings , leaves or shredded plant parts can save themselves the need for fertilizer and is less likely to be out and about with the watering can. Cleaned leaves and flowers can therefore remain where they are. Bark mulch is viewed increasingly critically in this regard. Such a mulch layer keeps the soil moist for longer, but at the same time it removes valuable nutrients from the substrate, which have to be rebalanced in one way or another.

cutting and overwintering

If the flowering has passed in autumn, it is time to release the black cohosh into the winter break with a radical pruning. The experienced hobby gardener cuts back his perennial close to the ground with a sharp knife or pruning shears. Additional precautions for the cold season are not necessary.

Note: In the course of a winter with little snow, Actaea racemosa is extremely endangered by drought. As a result, the prudent gardener waters the root ball on frost-free days.


If the silver candle fits harmoniously into the plant community of the garden, it is not uncommon for other places to appear that appear appropriate for greening with the buttercup plant. Since the perennial forms rhizomes and a root network, at the same time thrives like clumps, this circumstance enables two methods of propagation.


  • In early spring, dig up a mother plant that is not too young.
  • A sharp cut of the spade divides the eyrie in two.
  • Each section represents a separate plant.
  • Plant and water in the new place as soon as possible.

Ideally, the knowledgeable garden lover chooses a silver candle that has been established locally for several years. It is worth cleaning the root ball from the soil under water, as a natural dividing line can usually be seen as a result. If the division is based on this, the damage to the root area is kept within manageable limits. If you choose a perennial that is too young, there is a risk that the division will be at the expense of this year’s flowering. The following year, the white panicles appear in the usual manner.


  • During the summer, lift a well-established silver candle from the ground.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut off rhizome pieces with at least 1-2 shoot nodes.
  • Seal the interfaces with charcoal ash and replant the perennial.
  • Place each of the rhizome segments in a nursery pot in a warm, partially shaded spot.

Regular watering prevents the substrate from drying out while the rhizome forms new roots downwards and sprouts new shoots upwards. From this point on, each offspring moves to its final location in the bed.

The black cohosh propagates independently through self-sowing, but for the propagation by the hand of the hobby gardener, the sowing is comparatively complex compared to the division and the rhizomes. The reason for this argument is that the seeds are cold germs. They can only be induced to germinate by a cold stimulus of around 0° Celsius lasting weeks or even months, if at all. The seedlings then spend some time in seed pots at a maximum of 12° Celsius, in order to gradually get used to warmer temperatures. In this way, it can take a year or more for a stable young plant to develop.

Tip: It’s even easier for hobby gardeners to get young plants if they keep an eye out in their garden every year for natural seedlings that have been self-sowing. These are generously dug up and planted at the planned location.

Varied varieties

In addition to the Actaea racemosa, often also called July silver cohosh, skilled breeders have produced various varieties with interesting, individual characteristics. At this point it should be briefly noted that there is no consensus among scientists and researchers with regard to the botanical name. In earlier years, the assignment was often to the genus Cimicifuga (silver candles), whereas nowadays the assignment to the genus Actaea (Christoph’s herb) predominates. Therefore, both terms are still common in the trade.

August silver cohosh (Cimicifuga dahurica)
A never-ending flowering period from August to October characterizes the high-growing variety with slightly curved flower candles. At the same time, the aesthetic expressiveness of the perennial in the harmonious plant structure increases from year to year.

  • Growth height 180 cm to 200 cm
  • Pure white flower spikes above rich green foliage.
  • Lovely scented and cut plant.

September Silverprimrose ‘Pink Spike’ (Cimicifuga ramosa ‘Pink Spike’)
A magical variety with soft pink flower spikes and purplish-bronze leaves. As the name suggests, flowering begins in September and lasts until October. Due to the sprawling habit, which develops slowly in the first few years, 1 plant per m² bed area is sufficient.

  • Growth height 120 cm to 150 cm
  • Beautiful winter ornament in the garden.
  • Thrives in a cool, fresh place.

October Black Cohosh ‘Brunette’ (Cimicifuga simplex ‘Brunette’)
Numerous pinkish-white flowers, densely packed on elegant racemes above ornamental, long-stalked pinnate leaves; these are the outstanding features of the late-blooming October silver cohosh.

  • Growth height 140 cm to 200 cm
  • Exudes a light, floral scent.
  • Ideal for group planting in small tuffs.

Dwarf silver cohosh (Cimicifuga japonica variegata acerina ‘Compacta’)
A typical Japanese variety that is a few sizes smaller and more dainty in all parts, and is therefore wonderful for the small garden.

  • Growth height 60 cm to 80 cm.
  • Small, white spikes of flowers from August to September.
  • Maple-like, serrated foliage.

Lance silver cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa variegata cordifolia)
As the name suggests, this variety is an imposing perennial in the garden with upright, cream-colored flower clusters. It is one of the first among the silver candles to flower from June to September.

  • Growth height 150 cm to 250 cm.
  • Tripinnate, dark green leaves.
  • Also thrives in a sunny, occasionally dry location.

diseases and pests

It is less annoying fungal spores, viruses or voracious pests that cause a silver candle, but rather inadequacies in care. The flowering perennial can not put up with prolonged drought, nor with constant waterlogging. If the black cohosh lets the leaves droop sadly and the actually upright flower candles lean weakly towards the ground, only an immediate, penetrating dose of irrigation water can save the plant. Although she appears to be recovering and straightening up, this year’s bloom will suffer the strain. The effect is even more catastrophic if the roots are in waterlogged soil. Sooner or later rot will form, which will only be revealed after some time on visible parts of the plant.

Universally feared pests, such as slugs or aphids, give each Actaea a wide berth. They obviously don’t like the toxic ingredients.

Silver cohosh doesn’t thrive at the breathtaking pace of some annual flowering plants in the garden. Rather, she takes the time to perfect herself in beauty, grace and opulence from year to year. If the informed hobby gardener assigns it a place in the light shade or partial shade, in soil that is not too dry, this development results in an overwhelming bloom that stretches up to 250 cm into the sky. Regularly a good sip of rainwater, a start fertilization in spring and a cut back close to the ground in autumn; this already outlines the rest of the care work to do with the black cohosh.

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