Plant Profile: Astrantia

This genus of herbaceous perennials originates from shady woodlands of Central, East and South Europe and is commonly known as Masterwort. It is one of my must have plants due to it's long flowering period, lovely flowers which are great for photographing and it's self sufficiency in the garden. It is a tough, hardy and long living plant and doesn't need staking or fussing and will grow happily in shade or in some sun. 

Astrantia 'Buckland'

It livens up a shady border, growing happily with Hostas and other shade lovers and will tolerate most soils. I have seen it growing in anything from dank clay to light dry soils under trees and shrubs. Left to its own devices it will form a sizeable plant after three or four years, apart from A. maxima, which has a mind of it's own and likes to travel, not too much, but it will form a large plant much quicker, so something to be aware of. 

Astrantia 'Buckland' and a hybrid Dactolorhyza

The flowers of Astratia are well worth looking at close up. Each flower is a miniature bouquet with a crown of miniature flowers and stamens surrounded by stiff bracts giving the appearance of petals. These papery bracts help the flower last well past it's flowering season. I often leave them through winter to give height and structure when all else is died back and they look good with frost on them.  The flowers cut well for flower arranging, they will dry easily and bees love them.

The detail is in the flower, Astrantia 'Buckland'

Because of their toughness and ability to cope with poor soils and shade they are great in woodland gardens, prairie gardens and the more exposed colder gardens of Scotland. I successfully grew them in my last garden which was on top of an exposed hill in central Scotland at 850 feet above sea level in clay soil. Their pretty shades of pink, white and red go well with other pinks, mauves, blues and whites as you can see in the photos below. I have previously teamed them up with Persicaria bistorta 'Superba', white Alliums and double white Ranunculus.

Astrantia 'Buckland' and Persicaria bistorta 'Superba'

Astrantia 'Claret' with Allium 'Mont Blanc' and Ranunculus aconitifolius pleniflora 

If you have a space in a shady part of the garden I would recommend you give these plants a go. Which one to go for depends on your colour preference. I have grown all these cultivars in exposed gardens on clay soil. The Quirky Bird recommends the following:

Astrantia 'Snow Star'
White with green tinges to the tips, it grows up to 100cm and flowers from May to late summer. The one I am growing at home is doing well in a shady north west facing border under the eaves of the house.

Astrantia 'Buckland'
Pale pink with a tinge of green on the petals, these large flowers will keep going all summer long, growing to 75cm. A real tough plant that looks good too.

Astrantia 'Roma'
Darker pink stamens and mid pink bracts make this a real winner in the border. It flowers from May until well into late summer growing to 75cm.

Astrantia 'Claret'
A great dark cultivar which again flowers for weeks getting up to a metre tall. With darker stems well worth growing.

Astrantia maxima
With larger flatter flowers in mid pink this enthusiastic grower is worthy of a place in the garden if you have the room. Ideal for large borders where it can do it's thing.

Astrantia major
This genus grows easily from seed and will throw up a range of flower colours, which makes it interesting to sow seeds and see what comes up.

Astrantia 'Sunningdale Variegated'
As the name suggests a variegated form with yellow colouring on the leaves. The flowers a pale pink ans the plant is probably better in light shade so the variegation is not lost through lack of light.

Astrantia 'Shaggy'
White with shaggy green edges to the bracts, hense it's name, upright and shorter than most growing to 50cm.

Astrantia 'Ruby wedding'
One of the best with it's deep red flowers and darker foliage reaching 45cm in height.

Astrantia 'Moulin Rouge'
Another deep red flowered culivars with black tips tot he bracts and green centre to the flower. A shorter variety worthy of a space in the garden.

A. 'Madeleine', A. 'Lars' and A. 'Bloody Mary' are other culivars worth considering for your garden.

Astrantia 'Roma'

We have several varieties available from the nursery including A. 'Claret', A. major, A. 'Roma', A. 'Sunningdale Variegated' and A. 'Atomic Sunburst'. I will be adding more to our stock list as time goes on.

Astrantia 'Buckland' coming into flower with it's green tinged petals

Astrantia maxima with larger flatter flowers

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All contents  and photographs ©  Rona, unauthorised reproduction & use of these images is strictly forbidden


  1. I love these - there are lots of them growing in quite heavy shade nearby. I'm assuming they're 'Snow Star', having read your descriptions. Definitely planning on having some in our new garden :)

    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for commenting, definitely worth having in the garden, I've just been out photographing my Snow star, so will add it onto this blog post. Have a great weekend :)

  2. They are fabulous plants Rona one and all. Their only fault as far as I'm concerned is in the smell department - shades of damp facecloth come to mind. Have you tried 'Gill Richardson'? She does better for me than 'Ruby Wedding' or 'Hadspen Blood'.

  3. They are fabulous plants Rona one and all. Their only fault as far as I'm concerned is in the smell department - shades of damp facecloth come to mind. Have you tried 'Gill Richardson'? She does better for me than 'Ruby Wedding' or 'Hadspen Blood'.

    1. Hi Anna, I've never really noticed a small, now I have to go out and investigate! I haven't grown Gill Richardson, one to keep a look out for :)

  4. I just noticed you had a post about astrantias. It seems they prefer leaner soil with a higher pH preference? Mine are currently in slightly acidic, sandy loam, but get ample moisture.

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