Astrantia is one of my favourite plants. Reaching a height of 24 inches with a long bloom time, it is perfect as a cut flower in purple, red, white, and pink flowers. And I have to say that the fragrance is wonderful.
Well after the flowering period the silvery pink bracts remain… continuing to add beauty to your garden.
Bloom time is generally late spring into early summer. Dead heading flowers will encourage new flowers. They will naturalize under an open canopy.
Astrantia is rather an unusual plant and not common in many gardens. It is difficult to understand why it isn’t planted more often because it can be very beautiful.
It grows to anything between one and two feet in height and has very unusual flowers consisting of a condensed group of tiny flowerets.
Behind the flowerets there are bracts that look rather like petals, making this unusual and beautiful flower that looks a bit like a firework or a little star.
These plants like shade and grow best in soil that is well drained but still moist. The leaves are very similar to those of carrots or Italian parsley. As a matter of fact, this plant actually belongs to the carrot family.
They grow from tubers and the flowers can range in color from white, pink and red to purple. They also have a long blooming period and a wonderful fragrance.
Better still, even after the blooming period is over, the petal like bracts that form the base of the flowerets remain, and as these are a beautiful silvery pink color the plant continues to add beauty to the garden.
These flowers generally tend to bloom in late spring and the blooms continue on into early summer. If you trim the dead flowers, a procedure called ‘dead heading’, this encourages the plant to bloom more often.
There are lots of varieties available of this interesting plant, with all sorts of romantic sounding names such as Abbey Road, Roma, Hadspen Blood, Lars, Buckland, Star of Beauty Masterwort and Shaggy.
How to grow Astrantia
Astrantia plants are suitable for a considerable range of climates and are perennial.
This is a plant that should be planted in either partial or full shade to flourish.
Like many other plants of this type, it originally came from dark moist woodlands, where the soil was always rich in humus from fallen leaves, and the garden variety of this plant has not really deviated all that much from how it likes growing conditions through its evolution.
This means that if you want the plant to do well you will have to replicate the conditions enjoyed by its woodland ancestors. It works best when planted under a leafy shady canopy of trees, but failing this you must plant it in place where it will be protected from any real heat of the day by the shadow of a house, tree, or wall.
You need to simulate the soil conditions of natural woodland by adding plenty of compost, and just as leaves fall frequently in woodlands causing a humus laden soil, fertilizing is something that should be done frequently. It is preferable to fertilize at least twice during the year.
Note that this plant is a heavy feeder, especially during the flowering period, so keep that in mind when choosing how often to add fertiliser.
Remember that woodlands are also relatively moist, though not waterlogged and boggy like marshes.
You need to keep these plants relatively well watered and the soil must remain moist, especially in times of drought, otherwise the plants will not survive.
Astrantia Major is easy to propagate and propagation can carried out either by growing from seed or through the more usual procedure of division.
Division is relatively simple and should be done either in early spring or in early fall. Dig a mature clump of the plant up and use a spade to cut it into two halves. Now just plant the two halves in any location that you would like to have them in your garden.
It can also be grown from seeds and these should be planted in the fall or autumn to allow them to germinate because these seeds require the process of cold stratification for germination. Once they have been treated with cold, just plant them in soil and keep the soil warm so that the seeds can germinate.
Remember, that the older these seeds are, the longer the germination process will take. You can use a scarification process to enhance the chances that these seeds will germinate properly.