How to Grow Parnassia Plants

Guide to Growing Grass of Parnassus and Bog-Star

Parnassia is a hardy perennial that reaches from 20 to 45 cm (8 to 18 inches) in height.

They bloom in the summer, carrying white saucer shaped flowers. Plants have attractive heart shaped leaf foliage.

Parnassia palustris
Parnassia palustris by DenaliNPS.

One of the common names for Parnassia is Grass of Parnassus.

Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Grass of Parnassus, Bog-Star
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 8 to 24 inches (20—60 cm).
  • Native: Northern Hemisphere (alpine and mountain regions).
  • Growing Region: Zones 3 to 5 (Parnassia palustris to zone 9).

  • Flowers: Summer.
  • Flower Details: Upturned saucers. Five-petaled. White. Green veins.
  • Foliage: Green. Cordate. Up to 4 inches (10 cm).

  • Sow Outside: Surface. Late summer using fresh seed. Germination time: one to six months. Seeds should be sown into flats. Sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist and to check if seedlings have emerged. Once plants have developed five true leaves, repot into peat pots. Relocate pots to a lightly shaded area. Water from below to keep moist. Transplant to their final location in autumn. Spacing: 7 to 8 inches (27—20 cm).

  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight or light shade. Poor drainage/Swampy. Soil pH 6—7. Rich soil. Regular watering to maintain soil moisture. Spring mulch. Propagate: by dividing once blooming has completed.
  • Family: Celastraceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Bittersweet plants and Staff Vines.
  • Miscellaneous: The name of the plant was given by Mt. Parnassus farmers in Greece, whose cattle were very fond of eating it.

How to Grow Grass of Parnassus

When growing Grass of Parnassus from seed it is best to grow outdoors in its final location.

The plants like to grow in swampy (or very moist) conditions. They are able to grow in a sunny or lightly shaded part of the garden.

Ideally the soil should be ever so slightly acidic to neutral (pH 6 to 7) and rich.

The Parnassia seeds should be sown on the surface of flats using fresh seed at the end of summer. The flats should then be sunk into a shady part of the garden.

Germination can take from one to six months.

Once the Grass of Parnassus seedlings have grown to a stage where they have five leaves, they should be transplanted into peat pots, and relocated to an area of light shade. The pots should be watered from below.

In the autumn, the plants can be transplanted into the garden with a spacing of about 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches).

Caring for Parnassia

It is easy to look after Parnassia, they prefer the soil to be moist or swampy so water regularly. Additionally, the plants should be mulched in the spring to keep them cool.

It is recommended to divide the plants every three or four years to maintain vigour.

If you require more grass of Parnassus plants then they can be propagated by division immediately after flowering has finished.

Common Questions

How many members does the Parnassia genus contain?

The Parnassia genus, also known as grass-of-Parnassus, consists of about 50 species.

Do Parnassia members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Parnassia species with their delicate white flowers can provide a charming addition to garden beds, especially in woodland or boggy settings.

Which Parnassia species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Parnassia palustris, commonly known as marsh grass-of-Parnassus, is often cultivated due to its attractive flowers.

Are Parnassia plants fragrant?

Plants in the Parnassia genus are not typically noted for having a strong fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Parnassia?

Parnassia plants prefer moist, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. They thrive in a cooler climate.

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

Currently, Parnassia is not considered invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Parnassia plants from my garden?

To remove Parnassia plants from the garden, dig up the entire plant, ensuring that all roots are removed to prevent it from re-growing.


The Parnassia genus is part of the Celastraceae family, often referred to as grass of Parnassus. These perennial plants are appreciated for their delicate white flowers and lush foliage.

Parnassia prefers a sunny location with moist, well-drained soil. They are usually planted in the spring. With their graceful growth habit and charming blooms, they make a delightful addition to rock gardens, pond edges, or woodland gardens.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Parnassia plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Euonymus-fortunei, Liriope muscari, and Dioscorea plants.