Grow astrantias for beautiful summer borders, these popular slug-proof cottage-garden perennials make a wonderful
addition to English gardens.
Their pincushion heads of minute cream, pink and green flowers, surrounded by papery green-tipped bracts, were
once collected from the wild for medicinal use.
The old English name for straitness, ‘masterwort’, denotes their herbal use as a purgative or diuretic. But their quiet
beauty saw them established in cottage gardens, becoming ever showier.
If you grow these starry perennials, you’ll know that many come in dark colours, from blood red to deep purple and
near black. These dark types are the most sought after and are mostly cultivars or varieties of Astrantia major – a
European native sporting pale pink pincushions, framed by pink-tinged green and cream bracts.
The glossy green leaves form impressive mounds. One of the loveliest of this good-looking family is the stately A.
maxima, tall and beautiful. The pale pink bracts forming the characteristic ‘ruff’ are wide, tapering to a point, framing
the prominent central umbel of large, crushed-strawberry coloured flowers. The underside of the flowerhead is an
astonishing bright green.
Astrantia is very adaptable, and will grow well in full sun, given plenty of water, or in full shade, where foliage is lush,
and blooms are few. Ideally, astrantia should be grown where they will receive a few hours of morning light, with
dappled shade the rest of the day. For best growth and performance, astrantia should be planted in partial sun to
Astrantia will grow in heavy clay soils, but much prefers slightly acidic, light rich, loamy soils that retain moisture, but
drain off standing water. Incorporate compost, dried leaves, even used coffee grounds into your soil for more organic
Plant your astrantia with the crown ½ - 1 inch below the surface of the soil, with the roots spread out and down. Fill in
with loose soil and do not pack it down too tightly. Mulch to maintain even moisture.
Water you astrantia regularly and thoroughly to maintain a fairly even soil moisture. It will not survive sustained
periods of dry soil.
Astrantia typically bloom from early to mid-summer an exceptionally long and abundant bloom season, and they
produce flowers from early summer right through to early autumn. Deadhead, or remove spent blooms to encourage
continued bloom production. The flowers make long lasting cuts for fresh bouquets, and they dry beautifully for winter
Your astrantia will shrug off the coldest of winters, and be ready to grow and bloom for you, bigger and better every
Full Sun or Partial Shade
Late Spring to Summer
20-30 cm 8-12 inches
25-30 cm 10-12 inches
Astrantia major lars
Astrantia major Snow Star
Astrantia Major 'Moulin Rouge