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Chemish - The Original Competitor Of The Spirea

, Admin

The graceful curve of shoots of the unique compact shrub, originating from Transcaucasia and Central Asia, silver chemish, makes it one of the most spectacular alternatives to the favorite of all gardeners Spiraea. But this shrub is able to surprise not only with unique silhouettes. Abundant flowering, unusual shape of both flowers and fruits, silvery foliage and thin shoots turn the chesh into one of the most spectacular tools in the arsenal of the landscape designer. And although it is still difficult to refer it to the most popular species, it still deserves much more distribution and attention. Its grafting on acacia makes it possible to successfully grow this plant with southern status even in conditions of the average strip.

Chemish - the original competitor of the spirea
Chingil (Chemish, Shengil) silver (Halimodendron halodendron). © asperupgaard


  • Halimodendron halimodendron
  • Use of chemish in garden design
  • Conditions,
  • Propagation of calimodendron
  • Halimodendron care details
  • Halimodendron hibernation
  • Pest and disease control
  • Population of calimodendron

Halimodendron humble appearance

The humble folk name calimodendron does not at all characterize this unique shrub. Much more suitable for a plant whose crown beauty is not inferior to flowering is the botanical name halimodendron. The genus was named after the Greek "halimos" and "dendron", which can be translated as "salty tree".

Other popular nicknames - chingil, puppygil or chemil - are less common today. In the West, the shrub is known as the 'Russian salt tree' and in many countries has the status of a dangerous weed because of its ability to quickly take over territories in warm climates. This plant is one of the relatively rare members of the Legume family of ornamental crops in the garden.

The genus Chingil, Chemesh, Shengil, or Halimodendron (Halimodendron) includes a single plant - silver Chingil (Chemesh, Shengil) (Halimodendron halodendron). This is one of the most beautiful small shrubs known both in nature and in garden culture. The root system is very powerful, decomposing.

The attainable height of bushes is only 2 m. This prickly shrub forms amazingly beautiful silhouettes of thin inclined shoots, it sprawls wide. The beauty of the arched, elongated, surprisingly elegant branches in Chemish is not less pronounced than in the beloved garden spirei.

This plant looks like an architectural accent, adds beautiful lines and complex graphics even to modest landscape ensembles. It is thanks to the pattern of the crown of the Chemish trees look so romantic and modern. Their branches, despite their straightness, are arranged quite densely, forming dense thickets.

Chemysh belongs to the most fast-growing garden shrubs. It has strongly expressed prickliness (thorns up to 6 cm long), which allows to use it for protective plantings. The bark on the plant is gray, with time it cracks.

The foliage of the chemish seems silvery green, gray due to the dense pubescence of silky hairs that give it a velvety feel. It captivates not only by its metallic effect, but also by its beautiful shape. The featherless, compound, consisting of 1-3 small oval lobes with a spike at the end, the leaves of this plant reach only a little over 3 cm in length and give the cheniche an openwork green effect, reminding in something of acacia and beanberry.

In autumn the plants change their usual silvery attire for golden colors, standing out with a yellow-green crown against the crimson competitors. Each leaf has two prickly thorn-like leaflets.

The flowering of the chemish is inimitable. Moth-like, fragrant flowers bloom in thin axillary umbrellas of inflorescences in such numbers that they appear to be ornate ruffles and often conceal the bush beneath them. The complex shape is only emphasized by the unusual coloring with watercolor transitions to delicate pink or light purple tones. Halimodendron blooms in June and July, being one of the most original summer shrubs.

After flowering, the show on the Halimodendron continues. Very large, 2 to 3 cm swollen brown-yellow oval beans are formed from the flower ovaries, which, because of their weight, hang down from the shoots and form a peculiar necklace or fringe on the shrub. The fruits are usually several times larger than the leaf lobes, which only makes them more eye-catching and showy. Inside the beans are hidden olive green seeds. The fruits of this plant are said to fully mature in August-September, but in the middle belt the plant does not bear fruit every year.

Worth noting is this decorative form of this plant, adorned with more spectacular pink-red flowers - a magnificent and very popular form purpurea today.

Chalimodendron is grown in two separate forms, which differ from each other in degree of frost resistance and demandingness:

  1. Classic shrubs do not differ from natural bushes, are undemanding, relatively hardy and very easy to grow.
  2. The more fashionable and spectacular bush forms are much less frost-resistant and more capricious.

When choosing both bush and especially bush plants, it is necessary to choose the rootstock carefully. Only the chemises grafted on yellow acacia will be able to winter in the conditions of the middle strip with protection for the winter. Such a scion allows the plant not only to withstand severe frosts well, but also to develop more actively and grow faster. In height, such a chemise is capable of reaching 2 meters.

Use of chemise in garden design

The possibility of using chalimodendron in landscape design is directly influenced by the form of its cultivation. Conventional bush chalimodendrons are plants as versatile as spireas. In fact, they are the only competitors of the latter, which can compete with them in ornamentality and abundance of flowering, beauty of details and inimitable architectural branches.

Chemisp can be used as a soloist, and in a variety of groups. It proves itself perfectly as a flowering shrub for creating hedges, in landscape group plantings, on the outskirts, as large accents on flower beds and squares. You can also use it in the design of stony gardens.

As for the stem chalimodendrons - these are pronounced soloists. They are used either as piece accents, architectural elements, playing the role of visual "traps", or in small, very eye-catching group compositions. They are placed in the most advantageous places of a garden.

Chalimodendron is one of the most productive honey producing cultures, attracting massively all mellifers.

Chemish - the original competitor of the spirea
Silver Chengil (Chengil, Chalimodendron halodendron). © Latogatok

Conditions necessary for chemis

In bush form, chemis is a plant not demanding to the composition of soils, their fertility and alkaline reaction. This plant feels perfectly well even in urban conditions, it is not afraid of places adjacent to noisy polluted streets, it can even be used for planting hedges along highways.

Shrub plants are somewhat more demanding, they develop better in soils with at least medium fertility, but also perfectly adapted to almost any loose soil. Chamysh can be grown including on sandy, saline and other problematic types of soil. This shrub can be used for stony soil, decorating rockeries and alpinaries. Only waterlogged areas will not suit this plant.

But the light for the Chemish should be provided as bright as possible. This shrub will flower abundantly only on maximally lighted sites (in the penumbra it will create a beautiful crown, but you can not wait for flowering and fruiting from it). You can safely place bushes on the hottest southern locations or in other places with good light.

Planting Halimodendron

Transplanting this shrub does not like and negatively refers even to the transfer to new soil at a very young age. Quickly developing and powerful root system covers striking areas and cannot boast of compact size, any measures of transfer to a new place even in the youngest chalmodendrons can lead to the death of the plant. That is why it is most often not planted out, but sown in situ, having previously loosened and watered the soil.

Grafted on other plants, obtained by vegetative propagation, and staked chemosh should be planted in large spacious holes. Adding organic matter to the soil is welcomed. It is better to use seedlings in containers, without destroying the earth clod around the rhizome, and when planting with an open root system, conduct a preliminary soaking. Otherwise, transplanting is standard.

Chemish - the original competitor of the spirea
Halimodendron halodendron (Halimodendron halodendron). © Sten Porse

Peculiarities of the care of chamomile

Easy care of this shrub will please any gardener. This plant is super drought-resistant when growing even in sandy or stony soils, it does not need watering at all. And in the rest the care of the plant is actually reduced to the removal of root shoots as needed to limit the spread of the shrub. Chemiche growing even in poor soil does not need nutrition, but has a positive effect on flowering (a single fertilization with organic or mineral fertilizers at the end of spring is enough.

Bush chemiche do not need pruning. Stem plants, on the other hand, require timely removal of emerging stem and root shoots produced by the rootstock. Fortunately, shoots in acacia plants are removed quite easily. But this does not mean that the cotyledon cannot be trimmed at all or that it is poorly tolerated by pruning: if desired, bushes can be shaped, restrained and even try to achieve more abundant flowering by pruning up to half of the shoots after leaf fall. If the shrub loses its decorativeness it can be rejuvenated by strong pruning.

Hibernation of Halimodendron

Hardiness is the most controversial point in cultivation of the Chemish. This plant is suitable for the European part of Russia and all the southern regions, but in the middle belt, few people dare to grow it. Any chemysh grafted on yellow acacia will not cause any troubles, and will grow perfectly well even if lightly covered for winter. Even the simple chemysh, winter-hardiness of which was not increased by grafting on acacia, can withstand frosts up to -28 degrees and feels perfectly well in zone 5a. And freezing of young shoots and branches does not affect decorativeness of fast-growing plants, bushes perfectly recover. To prepare for winter it is enough to mulch the soil and dip the base of the bush with dry leaves.

Additional shelter from snow will also help to overwinter the chamomile. One shouldn't be afraid of this plant and myths about its unadaptability to the middle zone because Halimodendron can surprise much more persistence than it is expected.

Pest and disease control

The Chemosh is completely resistant to garden pests, and suffers very rarely from typical garden diseases. Only when plantings in the neighborhood are neglected, there is a risk of spreading fungal infections, which can be easily dealt with by biopreparations.

Chemysh reproduction

All varieties of chemysh without exception, including stump ones, are prone to forming abundant root shoots. Due to the powerful root system and the active release of lateral offspring, this shrub is quite easy to propagate with simple vegetative methods. But the process itself is considerably complicated by the fact that the shrub does not like transplanting and for rooting and obtaining resistant specimens from rootstock they should be grafted on other shrubs.

Usually the yellow acacia specimens giving the most decorative forms and improving the speed of development of the shrub are used. The same grafting requires cuttings. Often the double grafting method is used for this plant, grafting the yellow acacia first onto the roots of the Robinia and then the Halimodendron itself onto the yellow acacia. But you can also do with simple grafting.

Chemisp can also be propagated by seeds, and information on the technique of sowing seeds varies. According to most experts, the seeds of this plant require, due to their hardness, either acid-etching for 1 hour or boiling and scarifying by pricking the seed's shell with a needle. But some gardeners indicate that seeds germinate very quickly even without such procedures.

Sowing seeds of chemis should preferably be carried out directly to the permanent place of cultivation. The seedling method is not allowed: the plant does not tolerate transplanting. The seeds are buried in the pre-poured soil. The optimal sowing time is spring.

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