Astrantia major

Group of hardy herbaceous perennials, native to Europe and western Asia. Tolerant of most soil types, they will thrive in light shade and will also do well in full sun if the soil is kept moist. Astrantia has a long flowering season, from early summer to autumn.

These hardy spreading plants are great for flower arranging and are long lasting as cut flowers; so it is always a good idea to grow more than you need in the garden.

Family: Apiaceae
Botanical Name: Astrantia
Common Names: Masterwort, Hattie's pincushion

Foliage: Green deeply divided/lobed basal leaves. Deciduous.

Flowers: Small round convex flowers, usually white or pinkish in colour, with a frill of papery bracts.

Flowering Period: May, June, July, August.

Soil: Fertile, humus-rich, moisture-retentive soil.

Conditions: Thrives best in partial shade, but will do well in full sun if watered well.

Habit: Vigorous, clump-forming.

Type: Herbaceous perennial.

Hardiness: Fully hardy in UK.

Planting and Growing Astrantia

Generally easy to grow. Plant in a moisture-retentive fertile soil, preferably humus rich. They will required more water than most other perennials.

Good for mixed beds and borders, courtyard gardens, cottage gardens, pots and containers.

Taking Care of Astrantia

Stake in exposed situations and water freely in dry weather. Apply a surface mulch of compost or well rotted manure around April-May time to conserve moisture.

Like geranium (cranesbill), the whole plant can be cut down to ground level following the first flush of flowers in July, to stimulate fresh growth and further flowers.

The flower heads can be left on the plants over-winter to provide an attractive architectural effect. However, Astrantia are prolific self seeders and crossbred cultivars do not come true from seed. So you may wish to deadhead named varieties to avoid the spread of more vigorous self-sown reversions.

Cut plants down to ground level in November.

Pests and Diseases

Young emerging shoots are susceptible to slug damage. Can be affected by powdery mildews.

Propagating Astrantia

Sow seeds under glass in September. Divide cultivars that do not come true from seed in the spring or autumn.

Popular Varieties of Astrantia Grown in the UK

The most widely grown garden variety is Astrantia major.

A. major (Europe) has attractive, deeply divided, green foliage. Clusters of small pinkish-green flowers are borne on wiry stems from June to August. Height: 2ft (60cm).

Astrantia major 'Star Of Billion' produces upright stems of pincushion white blooms from June to August.

A. major 'Sunningdale Variegated' the young green leaves are splashed or striped with cream in the spring. Height: 1.5 to 3ft (45-90cm).

A. major involucrata (Shaggy) with deeply cut fingered leaves. Flowers have looser, longer, bracts. Height: 2ft (60cm).

Astrantia major 'Venice' has rich red flowers. Ideal in a semi shaded position, where they will flower all summer long.

A. maxima has attractive shell pink flowers. Height up to 2ft (60cm).

A. carniolica 'Rubra' rich dark red blooms. Height: 1.5ft (45cm)