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Astrantia, how to care for masterwort

Astrantia, masterwort

The star of mixed borders, Astrantia is a pretty flower that offers a long and spectacular bloom from May to September.

Key Astrantia facts:

Name: Astrantia
Family: Apiaceae
Type: perennial

Height: 1.5→3 feet (0.5→1 meter)
Exposure: part shade
Soil: fresh and drained

Foliage: deciduous – Blooming: spring, summer

Planting Astrantia

Hardy, Astrantia tolerates everything except drought. Soil that stays fresh is ideal for this beautiful perennial.

Astrantia in the ground

You can grow astrantia in the sun, as long as the soil stays fresh. Otherwise, it likes partial shade and supports light permanent shade. Plant in the spring, after the last frost. In the south of France, people prefer planting in the fall.

  • How to plant astrantiaMaintain spacing of 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) between each plant
  • Don’t hesitate to plant several specimens together to create a mass flowering effect
  • Add two handfuls of compost during planting
  • Water regularly for several weeks after planting, the soil should stay fresh

Astrantia in a pot

Astrantia in a potAstrantia is not a plant well suited for pot cultivation.

Indeed, it appreciates a deep and fresh soil, which is often lacking with potted plants.

If you still want to try it, choose a large-sized pot, place it in semi-shade and be rigorous with your watering.

Propagating Astrantia

Astrantia self-seeds spontaneously in the garden. To avoid this, just cut off dried flowers as they appear or start wilting. However, we advise against using astrantia seeds for sowing, because they rarely match the beauty of the mother plant.

It is better to divide the clump, as soon as the plant is 3 years old. Proceed in the spring by uprooting the plant with a broadfork. Divide the clump with a spade and replant the pieces in various places. Remember to give a little natural fertilizer at the time of replanting. 

Caring for masterwort, Astrantia

Caring for astrantiaOver the first year, you should water regularly to keep the soil fresh. This stops the plant from suffering from drought and promotes good rooting. After that, you only water during dry spells. Each spring, think about adding organic fertilizer, like compost, cut grass, or crushed horn. To keep the soil fresh, don’t hesitate to apply a good layer of organic mulch. Regularly cut off faded flowers, unless you want the plant to self-sow.

Trimming Astrantia

Like most perennials, Astrantia deserves trimming once a year. At the end of winter, in March, it’s suitable to cut back all the stems to about 4 inches (10cm) from the ground. Vegetation will then start a new season that’ll be rich in flowers.

> Care for potted Astrantia

If you decide to grow Astrantia in a pot, you need to be strict about watering. It’s best to set up an automatic watering system. You can also rely on ollas, which are porous terra cotta waterers. When filled with water, these small containers slowly release the precious liquid, keeping the soil always fresh. Even more so than you would do if planted in the ground, think about enriching your potting soil with fertilizer at the start of blooming and during summer.

> Astrantia diseases

Young plants sometimes get nibbled by slugs. You need to protect them using a ring of wood ashes, coffee grounds, or eggshells. Apart from that, this plant is not susceptible to pests and diseases.

Astrantia in winter

Don’t trust the delicate appearance of its pretty umbel flowers, Astrantia is a very hardy plant. It easily tolerates temperatures below 5°F (-15°C). You can certainly grow it at high altitudes, in a mountain garden.

What to know about Astrantia

Astrantia flowerThe foliage, divided into several lobes, forms a green carpet at the base of the plant. Flowers arise from the clump, atop a thin, erect stem. They have an umbel shape and varied colors: red, pink, white, or light green. They feature a colored bract collar, which highlights the spherical inflorescence.

Images: CC BY 2.0: Katrien Berckmoes, Tomasz Heyes, CC BY-SA 2.0: James Petts, F. D. Richards; Public Domain: Valleybrook Gardens
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