Ornithogalum Plants range from 10 cm to 60 cm (4 to 24 inches) in height and are usually grown as half hardy or hardy bulbs in the garden.
Ornithogalum flowers in the spring or summer (species dependent) carrying star shaped bells of 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.
It is estimated that there are between 50 and 300 members in this genus, with the exact number being argued by the plant taxonomists. Most plants are characterized by having star shaped flowers, linear basal leaves, and ovoid flower bulbs.
They make great plants to grow in a rockery, border, or containers and are at their best in the later months of spring at the start of summer. They are very fragrant and do well in sun or light shade. Beware that as these bulbous perennial plants produce offsets they are able to spread very quickly, with some species becoming invasive if not controlled properly.
Common names include the Garden star-of-Bethlehem, Splendid Ornithogalum, Nap-at-noon, and Grass lily.
Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem plant) photograph by thatredhead4.
It grows well in US zones 4 to 9, UK Hardiness H6. Leaves are strap-like. Plants bloom at the start of summer. Flowers are star shaped, white on the inside and green on the out.
Star of Bethlehem, Orange star flower, Snake flower
Ornithogalum dubium (Orange Star/Sun star) picture by Zed66.
This plant carry attractive brilliant orange, red, or yellow tepals with a flower center of brown or green. Plants reach about 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 cm) in height, and leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, and yellow-green.
Ornithogalum dubium does well outdoors in zones 7 to 11 in areas that have excellent drainage. It can make a good container plant in cooler areas if you bring it indoors for the winter. It is frost tender and classed as Hardiness H2 for the UK and Europe, where it can be grown outdoors in the summer, but should be brought inside well before temperatures drop to freezing.
If growing in containers, then do not water through the winter, and repot in the spring before putting outdoors once temperatures have warmed up. Supply plenty of water during the growing season.
Also known as the Nodding Star of Bethlehem or the Drooping Star of Bethlehem.
Ornithogalum nutans photograph by Wallygrom.
Plants can reach 2 feet (60 cm) in height. The flowers are bell-shaped stars, striped green and white, and fragrant. Leaves are strapped with a central vein of silver. Growing regions USA 6 to 10, UK H5 (Hardy in the UK to -15°C (5°F). Usually grown beneath shrubs and rose bushes, in rock gardens, or in a bed or border.
This species is considered invasive in many areas, so check your local regulations before growing it. Full details on Growing Nodding Star of Bethlehem can be found here.
Commonly referred to as Chincherinchee or the Wonder Flower
Ornithogalum thyrsoides (Chinkerinchee) by Abelard.
Perennial bulb reaching 45 cm (18 inches) in height with a spread of 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches).
Blooms in summer if planted in spring, or in spring if planted in the autumn. Makes a good container or border plant.
Ornithogalum thyrsoides has conical spikes, each of which has about 30 cup-shaped flowers. These are white, but the center has a hint of green. Leaves are bright green and lance shaped like grass. Makes a good cut flower.
NB. When people think of Ornithogalum bethlehem they are usually looking for O. umbellatum or O. arabicum species: as O. bethlehem is not currently listed as a species.
It is easiest to grow the Star of Bethlehem plant, Sun Star and other Ornithogalumplants from bulbs; these should be planted at from 7 to 15 cm (3 to 6 inches) deep in the Spring (for summer flowering) or Autumn (for spring flowering). The bulbs 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 first sow 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 next be sunk into the ground in a shady part of the garden and allowed to germinate Plants 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 care for Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum Star of Bethlehem) and Chinkerinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides) and similar species; they should be fertilized in April by mixing manure into the soil; and they will also require light fertilizing until the end of the summer.
Once established Ornithogalum may encroach, so weed as appropriate.