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Share to PinterestHow to Care For the Starflower Plant
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How to Care For the Starflower Plant

By Staff Writer
Share to PinterestHow to Care For the Starflower Plant

Starflower is a wildflower native to North American woodlands. Its scientific name, Lysimachia borealis, stems from King Lysimachus of Thrace, who was the first to discover the astringent and styptic (ability to stop bleeding) qualities of the variety.

Borealis refers to the plant's northern origins, although it grows strong in the Appalachians and Midwest. From its verdant stems to its alabaster flowers, the starflower stands out in any home garden. Discover how to plant and care for this blooming beauty at home.


Your starflower's new home

Share to Pinteresthand on soil
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Starflower seeds are sown directly into the soil and don't require preparation. To prepare your garden effectively, however, till the soil with organic matter to a depth of six inches.

Ensure that the soil is rich and well-draining; adding sand or peat moss boosts drainage prior to planting, if necessary.


Planting your starflower

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Fall is the ideal time to get starflower bulbs started. Since they need a chilling period to bloom, bulbs use spring's warm temperatures to burst out of dormancy and into beautiful buds.

Sow starflower seeds directly into the soil surface, firmly pressing them into place. Your beds should already be prepared and ready to go, so plant seeds in holes approximately 2 inches deep and 2 inches apart. Bulbs should have their pointed sides up and the surrounded area filled in with soil.


A healthy start: sunlight requirements for starflower

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Your starflower plants thrive best in full sun to partial shade. Ideally, they should receive at least six hours of sunlight each day. While they can tolerate temperatures over 100 degrees, cooler settings create more optimal growing conditions, and you'll notice blooms from mid to late spring into early summer.


A healthy start: watering

Your starflower's watering routine should mimic conditions in its natural woodland environment. Soil should be consistently moist but not soggy, so water when the top 2 inches of surrounding soil starts drying. By drenching this area at a depth of 8 to 10 inches, you'll saturate the root ball in its entirety. Water deeply in the early morning so it can soak in without evaporating.


A healthy start: special nutrients

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Thankfully for your green thumb, starflowers are low-nutrient users. While you won't have to empty your wallet on expensive nutrients, plants benefit from bulb fertilizer when first planted.

To help keep starflowers growing strong, top them off with a thick layer of mulch or organic compost, such as fruit rinds, yard trimmings, grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, or paper napkins.


USDA hardiness zone information

Starflower thrives in hardiness zones 5 and above, as it naturally occurs in woods, forests, bogs, and sandy swamps throughout North America. It's distributed evenly across Canada, the Northern U.S. from coast to coast, the Midwest, and higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains as far south as the state of Georgia.


Healthy growth: pruning your starflower

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While your plants can be pruned any time, an annual fall pruning is an effective way to keep them in check. Cut back the leaves after flowers drop off at the end of summer; this encourages additional flowering during the next growth cycle.

Remove any damaged flowers, stems, or leaves, and you're good to go for the year.


Preparing for winter

Your plants will become dormant once summer wraps up, with the foliage dying and the plant disappearing underground until the next spring. Provide protective mulch during the winter months so you can rely on robust growth come spring.

Watering isn't necessary unless you're experiencing continued drought, so minimal prep is required.


Can I propagate my starflower?

Once they're established, your plants will require minimal care and maintenance; they'll naturalize easily and grow back every year with low effort. Propagation is even easier because starflower self-seeds and spreads underground using rhizomes.

You don't have to do anything here; just let them self-sow on their own. If you want to halt the process, deadhead spent flowers before fresh seeds can develop.


Common diseases

Share to PinterestStarflower (Lysimachia borealis)
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Starflower is a hardy plant that's virtually disease-free, so there aren't many risks to worry about! Besides a few snails or slugs sneaking in, low-maintenance care is a major benefit of growing and caring for starflower in your home garden.


Common pests

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Once established, these bold blooms attract caterpillars, slugs, and snails that can easily damage plants by chewing away at leaves and flowers. While any foliage is fair game, seedling leaves and stems are at particular risk.

As your plant emerges, perform regular checks to monitor damage. A quality fertilizer provides effective control against pests, so if you notice damage, put it to use quickly, and trim away flawed foliage to prevent it from spreading.


Showing off your starflower

Starflower makes an excellent addition to a woodland shade garden and a welcome companion to many wildflowers, growing effortlessly alongside naturalized blooms and boosting garden diversity.

These blossoms are grown for ornamental use and also look lovely along your garden wall, rock garden, border front, under deciduous trees, or planted en masse in flowering carpets across your yard.


Similar plants

Share to PinterestBlue flowers of brunnera variegata in springtime

Albas feature intense white blooms similar to starflower, with identical growing conditions. They're sturdier and bloom later in the season. Variegata features delicate blue blooms, while creeping borage is a sprawling plant with pale blue flowers that arrive from late spring through late summer.

Each species requires minimal care and is relatively easy to grow, so they're great alternatives (or companions) to starflower.


Cautions and additional information

Starflower isn't poisonous to pets, people, or wildlife, so there's no need to worry about your human or fur babies. It's listed as an endangered plant both by the U.S. government and by the states of Illinois, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Constantinople Samuel Rafinesque, an 18th-century naturalist from Constantinople who dedicated his life to studying and observing plants across America, observed and wrote about the plants. They symbolize innocence and purity, like many other white flowers.


Varieties of starflower

Share to PinterestIpheion 'Alberto Castillo' (Spring Starflower)

With countless varieties available, there's a starflower for every garden. Ipheion Alberto Castillo won the prestigious Award of Garden Merit for its eye-catching beauty. The Ipheion Jessie features sweetly scented blue blossoms, while the Charlotte Bishop and Wisely Blue (both Award of Garden Merit winners) have light pink and blue-lavender blooms, respectively.

In each of these varieties, lush flowers grow up to six inches tall and return year after year with minimal effort.



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