|Dodecatheon meadia Family: Primulaceae
Common name: shooting star
Description: An herbaceous perennial with pale green, lance-shaped leaves which form an upright rosette. As many as four leafless flower stalks emerge from the centre of the rosette, arising to a height of up to 20 inches (50 cm). Each flower stalk has an umbel on top with as many as twenty nodding, lightly fragrant flowers dangling from their individual stems. Each 1 inch (2.5 cm) long flower has 5 reflexed petals. Colour can be variable, ranging from white to pink to lavender purple. A cluster of bright yellow stamens is noticeable below the petals for its pointed formation. The whole floral effect gives the appearance of a bunch of shooting stars plummeting to earth. Bloom time is mid- to late spring…April through May. A seed capsule containing small dark seeds forms on top of the stalk after flower petals die back.
Special Notes: Native to North America…more commonly on the east coast and into the central prairies, but also found in the Pacific Northwest. Typically, this plant is found growing naturally in glades, deciduous forests, treed rock slopes, ledges, and meadows. It is tolerant of most soil types…preferring rich, moist, well-draining soil, but also clay-type as long as drainage is decent. Does not like poorly drained, wet soils, especially in winter. Due to its early bloom time, it is an important foraging plant for queen bumblebees. The whole plant goes dormant in summer, reappearing the following spring.
There are no serious pest or disease problems. Deer resistant.
Slow and difficult to grow from seed. Needs vernalization…exposure to a prolonged period of winter cold…for germination. Easiest method is to allow the plant to self-seed. Alternatively, the seed can be collected in spring, sown in a tray filled with a sterile soil-less potting mix, and placed in a protected shady spot outdoors for the rest of the year. (Make sure the soil is kept slightly damp.) You can also collect the seeds and store them in an envelope or other suitable container, and place them in a cool, dry location. There are a few different methods of germinating collected seeds held indoors. One such method is to place some sterile soil-less potting mix in a ziplock bag, then add some seeds to the mix…making sure they are incorporated into the potting soil. Place the bag in the refrigerator for one day. Next day, place the bag of soil and seeds in the freezer for one day. Repeat this alternating schedule for one week. After stratifying the seeds in this manner, sow them about 0.1 inch (0.3 cm) deep in pots and place on a heating mat set to 20 °C (68 °F). Make sure the pots do not dry out.
Or you can save some of this trouble and simply divide your plant when it is large enough.
In our Zone 7a garden: We have a delightful clump of Dodecatheon meadia under the magnolia tree. Always a pleasure to see it arrive on scene…a true indication spring is really getting underway.
We have allowed this plant to self-seed in place to save the work of germinating seeds ourselves. The plant will be then be divided.
Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit (AGM) 1993
Posted on April 4, 2018