Ornithogalum range from 10 cm to 60 cm in height and are grown as half hardy or hardy bulbs in the garden.
Ornithogalum plants flower in the spring or summer (species dependent) with star shaped white, orange or pale green flowers atop leafless stems.
Some common names for Ornithogalum include Star of Bethlehem flower, Sun Star, Grass Lily, Eleven-o'clock Lady, and Chincherinchee.
Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem plant) photograph by thatredhead4.
Ornithogalum dubium (Orange Star/Sun star) picture by Zed66.
Ornithogalum nutans photograph by Wallygrom.
Ornithogalum thyrsoides (Chinkerinchee) by Abelard.
When people think of Ornithogalum bethlehem they are usually looking for O. umbellatum or O. arabicum: O. bethlehem is not currently listed as a species.
It is easiest to grow the Star of Bethlehem plant, Sun Star and other Ornithogalum from bulbs; these should be planted at from 7 to 15 cm deep in the spring (for summer flowering) or Autumn (for spring flowering). The Star of Bethlehem should be planted at about 10 to 15 cm apart into a rich soil.
Ornithogalum species are able to grow in both sunny and shady areas of the garden, but they do require good drainage.
If growing Ornithogalum from seeds then it is best to sow the seeds in flats in the spring (lightly cover the seeds). The flat should then be covered with a plastic bag, and placed in the fridge for about three weeks. The flat should then be sunk into the ground in a shady part of the garden and allowed to germinate, Ornithogalum can take anything from one to six months to germinate.
Once young seedlings appear transplant them to their final location. It should take about four years until Ornithogalum grown from seed will first bloom, but the pleasure from growing from seeds is well worth the wait.
It is fairly easy to look after Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum bethlehem) and Chinkerinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides) and similar species; they should be fertilized in April by mixing manure into the soil; they will also require a light fertilising until the end of the summer.
Once established Ornithogalum may encroach, so weed as appropriate.
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