Dodecatheon Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Dodecatheon plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Shooting Star, Prairie Pointer, & American Cowslip: Cultivation & Garden Use

Dodecatheon members are small hardy perennials of about 15 to 45 cm in height.

They are woodland plants and therefore make nice plants to grow in shaded areas of the garden.

They bloom in the spring through to the beginning of summer, and carry star shaped flowers of pink, purple or green, atop a leafless stalk.

The leaves are of a rosette nature.

Some of the common names for Dodecatheon include Prairie pointer, American cowslip and Shooting star.

Dodecatheon by pfly.

Dodecatheon Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Shooting Star, American Cowslip, Mad Violets, Mosquito Bills, Indian Chief, Prairie Pointer.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial. Half hardy perennial.
Height: 6 to 20 inches (15 to 50 cm).
Native: Northern America, North-east Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 4 to 10.
Flowers: Spring through to early summer.
Flower Details: Green, purple, pink. Star-shaped. Reflexed petals. Umbel.
Foliage: Herbaceous. Oblong-ovate. Grey-green.
Sow Outside: Surface. Late autumn and early winter. Seeds should first be sown into flats. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist. Once seedlings are strong transplant them to their final location. Spacing: Small Dodecatheon species 6 inches (15 cm); Larger varieties 20 inches (50cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: three months to one year. Temperature: 60 to 70°F (16 to 21°C). Start in spring. Mix seeds in a moist growing medium, place in a freezer bag, then stratify by refrigeration for three weeks. Transplant outdoors following the last frost or in autumn.
Requirements and care: Full or partial shade. Acidic woodland type soil; pH 5 to 7. Rich soil, moist soil. Spring mulch. Regular watering during growing period to ensure soil moisture. Once established do not disturb. Propagate: by dividing in the autumn.
Miscellaneous: Attracts bees; pollinated by the vibrations that bees produce when they buzz their wings when reaching for pollen.

How to Grow Prairie Pointer, Shooting Star and other Dodecatheon

Dodecatheon can be grown outdoors from seeds if grown in flats (covered by glass); sow the seeds on the soil surface in the flat at the end of autumn or the beginning of winter.

Once the seedlings of prairie pointer (Dodecatheon) are established transplant them about 20 cm (small varieties) or 50 cm (large)apart. They prefer to grow in shady areas.

As they are a native woodland plant, they prefer woodland soil that is both moist and rich, with a slightly acidic to neutral pH (5 to 7).

Dodecatheon seedlings can also be started off indoors and planted out in the spring. First seeds should be imbibed by placing the seeds (within soil) in a black bag, then placing in the fridge for three weeks.

Seeds should then be germinated at a temperature of 15 to 18 degrees Centigrade in the light. The germination of Prairie pointer can tale anything from one month to one year.

Caring for Dodecatheon Plants

Once growing in the garden it is important to keep the soil around Dodecatheon plants moist, and mulching is required every spring.

Common Questions

How many members does the Dodecatheon genus have?

There are 17 species in the Dodecatheon genus.

Do members of Dodecatheon make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Dodecatheon species, known as shooting stars, have attractive flowers and are a good choice for woodland or shade gardens.

Which Dodecatheon species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The Dodecatheon meadia (Prairie Shooting Star) is a common choice for gardeners.

Are members of the Dodecatheon plant genus fragrant?

No, Dodecatheon species are not notably fragrant but are admired for their unique, beautiful flowers.

What is the perfect location to grow Dodecatheon?

Dodecatheon prefers a location with partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soil.

Is Dodecatheon invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Dodecatheon species are not considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Dodecatheon plants from my garden?

Removing Dodecatheon involves digging up the entire plant, including roots, to prevent regrowth.


The Dodecatheon genus, also known as Shooting Stars, consists of about 20 species of flowering plants native to North America. They are loved for their unique, inverted flowers which appear in late winter or spring, providing early nectar for bees.

Dodecatheon prefer partial to full shade and moist, well-drained soil. They can be grown from seeds, but are most often bought as potted plants. After flowering, the plants enter a dormant phase and their foliage dies back, so it's beneficial to pair them with later-blooming shade plants to fill the gap.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Dodecatheon plants. You may also enjoy these other Primulaceae family growing guides: How to Grow Pimpernel, Primula, and Cyclamen plants.