Caring For The Shooting Star Flower

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The shooting star flower – Dodecatheon meadia [doh-dek-ATH-ee-on, MEE-dee-ah] is a charming plant and is widely available for cultivation across the United States. 

Native to North America, dodecatheon meadia belongs to the primula family (Primulaceae) where we find the primrose Primula vulgaris

shooting star flower (Dodecatheon Meadia)shooting star flower (Dodecatheon Meadia)

A group of herbaceous perennials, the plant has derived its name from the Greek words dodeka which means twelve and theos which means god. 

Often found growing wild in low elevation areas, particularly in late spring, this spring wildflower grows well at places where consistent moisture is available such as its native habitat of open woods.

Its use as a garden ornament is not infrequent and it has also received the Royal Horticulture Award of Garden Merit in 1993. 

Its pink flowers are eye-catching and make almost all types of gardens visually appealing. 

Ready to adorn any garden thanks to the growing popularity of the native plant gardening, amethystinum from the primrose family is widely known by its following common names:

  • Eastern shooting star
  • American cowslip
  • Pride of Ohio
  • Roosterheads
  • Shooting star
  • Prairie Pointers

Shooting Star Flower Care

Size & Growth

Dubbed as a spring ephemeral, the shooting star plant blooms in the spring when mild temperatures and moist soil create a healthy growing season for the plant. 

In the summer, it goes dormant. 

Its foliage emerges in early spring – a fibrous root system produces basal rosettes. 

Lance-shaped, smooth leaves grow up to 6″ inches long and 2.5″ inches wide. 

Their prominent greyish green to emerald color along with a reddish base allows them to stand out in the garden. 

The foliage, however, persists only until the late spring, after which the plant becomes dormant. 

The rosettes, too, will offset, letting the new plants develop slowly.  

They grow in USDA hardiness zones 4,5,6,7,8.

Flowering and Fragrance

The bloom time of the plant is mid-spring when thin, leafless yet sturdy flowers grow up to 18″ inches from the rosette of leaves. 

The dangling, 1″ inch long flowers have a cluster of yellow stamens which surround the bottom part of the flower which converges downward hanging in umbels.

They also have elegantly-shaped five upward reflexed petals, giving a unique appearance to the plant. 

Flower colors are variable, ranging from white to pink to light purple. 

Light & Temperature

Dormant in the summer, the plant doesn’t like heat or extreme light and prefers partial shade. 

They love mild temperatures and thrive in gentle rains of April through June.  

Watering and Feeding

Shooting star plants need average water. 

In the same manner, they don’t need any supplemental fertilizer. 

They grow best in native soil which isn’t treated with any additional nitrogen. 

If your soil is poor, use a shovelful of compost to side-dress the plant during their growing season.

Soil & Transplanting

Shooting star plants thrive in soil type which is rocky or sandy loam with soil moisture.

For better results, slightly acidic soil with a soil pH of 6.8 is preferred. 

Some plants may prefer clay soil as well. 

They also do extremely well in leaf molds, generally accumulated under mature trees.

Grooming and Maintenance

The plant requires little care and has the ability to withstand benign neglect. 

It has low water needs and since it is dormant during summer, it is somewhat drought-resistance. 

However, when planting the shooting star plant, consider doing so under a high canopy of trees. 

This will allow the plant to receive dappled light in the spring. 

In the same manner, during the resting phase, the plant will be well-protected under the shade of the tree.

How to Propagate Dodecatheon Meadia

The shooting star plant – or dodecatheon pulchellum – is easily propagated by division. 

Since in the summer, it undergoes a period of dormancy, makes sure to locate the plant before it goes dormant. 

Begin the propagating process in the fall. 

Divide the plants by digging up the plants while leaving around one foot of space between them.   

Dodecatheon Meadia Pest or Diseases

The perennial plant is not really affected by any insect It doesn’t encounter any disease problems either. 

The plant, however, has special value to one of the most common pollinators, bumblebees. 

For bumblebees, it is the most important source of nectar. 

But here are a few things you should know about the pollination process consider: the shooting star’s pollen is in a narrow tubular structure. 

The bees have to vibrate their bodies to loosen the pollen. 

Only this behavior generally allows the pollination to happen. 

To protect the bees, don’t forget to thoroughly shield the plant from pesticides.   

Shooting Star Flower Use

The shooting star plant is mainly cultivated as a garden ornament and looks great in a wildflower garden or woodland garden.

This easy-to-care plant adds beauty to the garden in the spring season. 

And while there is no scientific evidence available to back the claim, according to some history books, Native Americans used this plant to aid women through pregnancy. 

In addition, it was also worshipped by the Greeks since they believe the plant was cared for by the gods.

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