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 dappled shade.
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 nutrients.
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
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 interest.
Your astrantia will shrug off the coldest of winters, and be ready to grow and bloom for you, bigger and better every year!
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