Home Flower Gardening Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum): The Ultimate Growing and Care Guide

Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum): The Ultimate Growing and Care Guide

by Donna
3 minutes read

Star of Bethlehem: A Guide to Growing and Caring for Ornithogalum


Star of Bethlehem, also known as ornithogalum, is a beautiful flowering plant that adds charm to any garden. These bulbous perennials are native to various parts of the world and are characterized by their star-shaped flowers. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about growing and caring for star of Bethlehem, from planting instructions to pest and disease management.

Varieties of Star of Bethlehem

There are around 180 species of ornithogalum, but only a handful are commonly available for cultivation. Some popular varieties include:

  • Giant chincherinchee (Ornithogalum saundersiae): This impressive variety boasts large, fragrant white flowers.
  • Drooping star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans): Features nodding white flowers and is fully hardy in most climates.
  • Chincherinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides): Tall spikes covered in small white flowers.
  • Yellow chincherinchee (Ornithogalum dubium): Unique orange-yellow flowers.
  • Common star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum): Bears clusters of white, star-shaped flowers.
  • Dwarf star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum oligophyllum): A compact variety that is hardy in most of the UK.

Growing Conditions

Star of Bethlehem prefers well-drained soil that is loamy or sandy. They thrive in sunny or lightly shaded areas. Some varieties are not hardy and need to be brought indoors for the winter.

Planting Instructions

When planting star of Bethlehem bulbs, choose a location that meets their growing preferences. Dig a hole twice as deep as the bulb’s height and place it in the hole with the pointed end facing upwards. Fill the hole with soil, firm it gently, and water thoroughly.

Care and Maintenance

Once established, star of Bethlehem requires minimal care. Water regularly during the growing season, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. Mulching around the plants helps conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.

After the flowers fade, remove the spent flower stalks and trim any yellowing leaves. However, allow the rest of the leaves to wither naturally to ensure the bulb stores enough energy for future growth.


Ornithogalum can be propagated by dividing the bulbs. Lift the bulbs from the ground during the dormant period in the autumn and separate the offsets or bulblets from the main bulb. Replant the offsets at the same depth as the parent bulb.

Pests and Diseases

Star of Bethlehem is occasionally susceptible to certain pests and diseases:

  • Aphids: Small insects that feed on the sap of plants.
  • Slugs and snails: Can eat through the leaves and flowers.
  • Bulb rot: Caused by excessively wet soil or poor drainage.

Buying Tips

When purchasing ornithogalum bulbs, choose firm and plump ones with no signs of mold or damage. Look for reputable nurseries or online suppliers to ensure the quality and authenticity of the bulbs.


Star of Bethlehem is a beautiful and versatile plant that adds a touch of elegance to any garden. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you can successfully grow and care for these charming flowers, enjoying their star-shaped blooms for years to come.

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