Astrantia tends to be less popular than daisies, lilies, or asters among garden owners. However, astrantia flower has a humble charm from its star-like formation. Experienced gardeners love these flowers as deer-proof shade plants.
You can use them as charming additions in your garden. Their beautiful shapes and easy maintenance make astrantias perfect even for beginners.
A. Common Types of Garden Astrantia
Known with their common name “masterwort”, astrantias originated from Eastern, Southern, and Central Europe. The plant now has several varieties, cultivated to create various colors and sizes.
Here are some of the most common astrantia types:
1. Astrantia roma
Astrantia roma is a pink variety that grows in clusters. The sharp petals and curved flowerheads create unique shapes, like pin cushions. They grow from spring to summer and enjoy partial shades.
2. Hadspen Blood
Hadspen Blood is a red/pink variant that has bell-shaped flowerheads. Unlike other astrantias, Hadspen Blood can handle slightly dry soil. However, you must mulch the soil properly since planting to keep these flowers healthy.
3. Milano Astrantia
Milano Astrantia is popular for vase arrangement. The flowers have dark pink to purplish shades and grow during summer. They have several qualities that all garden owners love. They are deer-resistant, but attractive to bees and butterflies.
4. Great Masterwort
Great Masterwort can grow wild and in the garden. This flower is white with symmetrical, star-like petal formation. The center of the flower has pinkish shade.
5. Madeleine van Bennekom
Madeleine van Bennekom is a different variant of Great Masterwort. This flower has more spectacular blooms, with large, multiple flowerheads that grow from stem clusters. The petals are thinner than Great Masterwort’s, with greenish tips.
Another variant of Great Masterwort, the Claret has red to purplish flowers shaped like pincushions. This flower is quite tall, with stems that can reach 60 cm of height.
7. Buckland Astrantia
Buckland Astrantia has small, pale purple flowers that grow on long stems. Small, green leaves burst out between the flower formation on the stems. When the flowers are fully bloomed, the thin stems become slightly curved, giving the plants an elegant look.
From various astrantia types, the Great Masterwort (Astrantia major) and its smaller variation (Astrantia minor) are the most popular ones. They are also easy to plant and quite resilient.
B. Requirements to Plant Astrantia
Astrantia was originally a wild plant from Europe, so it can adapt easily. There are several requirements you must fulfill to plant these flowers. They are:
1. Fair climate
Astrantia grows well in areas with mild summer and winter. However, it can withstand strong, almost freezing winter. Astrantia does not fare well in areas with hot, humid climate. Some variants tolerate dryness well, but still require mulching and constant watering.
2. Full sun or partial shade
Astrantia grows better if you plant it under the full sun. However, these flowers do not reject partial shade. This quality makes astrantia perfect for shade plant.
3. Rich, slightly acidic soil
Astrantia loves rich, well-drained, and slightly acidic soil. It can tolerate clay soil, but you must provide additional nutrients. Natural composts or dried leaves work perfectly to enrich the soil.
4. Constant watering
Since astrantia cannot handle dryness, you must water it properly. Make sure to keep the soil moist and well-drained. Never wait until the soil is cracked or dry before watering the flower.
A common variety such as white astrantia (Great Masterwort and its variants) blooms between mid-spring and summer. You can enjoy the flowers until fall and even winter, depending on the maintenance. The flowers are great for bouquets, and you can also dry them.
C. Steps of Growing Astrantia Seeds
Growing astrantia from the seeds is easy, but you must propagate the seeds properly. The ideal time to start planting astrantia is the fall. Here are the steps.
1. Prepare the seeds
Place your seeds in the fridge for six weeks to encourage germination. The ideal temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit). Take out the seeds only when you are ready to plant them.
2. Prepare the soil
Find a spot in your garden that gets full or partial sun. Work the soil by digging it to at least 10 cm deep. Mix the soil with 2 cm of compost layer to give the seeds nutrition.
3. Plant the seeds
Plant astrantia seeds that have bare roots, around 2 to 3 cm under the soil. Spread the root widely before you cover it with loose soil. Avoid patting the soil too tightly. If you grow multiple seeds, make sure each plant has 36 cm of space.
4. Mulch the seeds
Add 6 to 8 cm of mulch layer around your astrantias. They are great to prevent weeds and keep the plants moist for a longer period. You can repeat the mulching every fall.
Water your astrantia regularly but avoid flooding the soil. Use liquid fertilizer, especially during the hottest days. Astrantia is rabbit-proof and deer-proof, and it is resilient against various plant diseases. Check the plant occasionally to spot slugs or other parasites and remove them immediately.
D. Tips to Grow Astrantia in the Garden
Astrantia looks beautiful up-close but tends to blend and “disappear” when seen from afar. Therefore, these flowers are great as border or walkway plants, where they can “welcome” visitors. You can also plant them near your terrace or patio, so you can sit and enjoy the blooms more clearly.
You can also plant astrantias near a pond, or next to companion plants such as Astilbe, hosta, and ferns. If you are afraid that they will be invisible, plant them in a box planter and hang it on the fence.
The small, subtle, but beautiful astrantias are ideal as the center of a bouquet. Plant them during the fall to make summer bouquets.
The resilient astrantia adds subtle beauty to your garden. While they are adaptable and resilient, they cannot handle hot and dry climate.
These flowers are perfect for those who live in areas with cold winter and mild summer, and often have problems with rabbits or deer.
Astrantia may need special requirements to grow well. However, once you follow the steps, you will be glad to see beautiful astrantia plants blooming in your garden after winter.