Astrantia major, otherwise known in cultivation as the great masterwort, is a species of flowering plants in the Apiaceae family. This heavenly-looking plant is native to several regions of eastern and central Europe. It grows mostly in grasslands, mountain meadows, clearings, forests, and also close to the streams.
Great masterwort plants are pretty popular ornamentals in many areas worldwide. These flowers grow nicely in the gardens with lots of shade and moisture but can also make for adorable potted houseplants. They are the missing piece from all cottage gardens, woodland gardens, alpine gardens, borders, bouquets, and dried floral arrangements.
To mesmerize your senses and complement your landscape, Great masterwort plants come along with numerous subspecies, varieties, and hybrids. Some of the most interesting cultivars include ‘Abbey Road’, ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘Ruby Cloud’, ‘Shaggy’, ‘Snow Star’, ‘Star of Beauty’, and ‘Vanilla Gorilla’.
About Great Masterwort
- Thanks to their stunning appearance, the A. major ‘Roma’ and A. major ‘Sunningdale Variegated cultivars have gained the prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
- Their genus name refers to their star-shaped floral bracts and comes from the word “aster”, which is the Latin for “star”.
- They are entomophilous plants, having many pollinators that spread their pollen. These flowers are highly attractive to beetles and butterflies, but also other insects.
- Great masterwort plants have a habit to reproduce themselves by tiny buds that appear at the ground level. They tend to become woody and somehow invasive.
- These plants contain amino acids very beneficial for the human body. They also produce an essential oil that many people use in herbal medicine.
- Some growers harvest the roots of Great masterwort plants in summer or early fall to dry and use them later. A decoction made of its roots has laxative properties.
- Their colourful flowers and attractive foliage works well with other species of plants, such as Baltic Parsley, Giant Hyssop, Horned Spurge, Lamb’s Ears, Painted Lady Fern, or Plume Thistle.
- If consumed in small amounts, Great masterwort plants have no toxic effects on humans or animals. For safety purposes, however, it is better to keep your curious furry friends away from them.
Great Masterwort Features: An Overview
- Great masterwort plants belong to the Astrantia genus that contains about 8-9 species of flowering plants. They share this genus with popular species like A. bavarica, A. carniolica, A. maxima, or A. minor.
- In their natural habitat, these plants appear at fairly high altitudes of 330 to 7550 feet (100-2300 m) above sea level. They usually grow in calcareous soils.
- They are herbaceous perennial plants that can reach up to 35 inches (90 cm) in height and about 18 inches (45 cm) in width. As houseplants, they grow no taller than 24 inches (60 cm).
- These plants have aromatic roots. Their foliage contains long, erect, and glabrous stems and many basal leaves. The stems come along with few branches and two tiny sessile, and lanceolate-shaped leaves.
- The basal leaves measure from 3.1 to 5.9 inches (8-15 cm) in diameter and have a long petiole of 3.9 to 7.9 inches (10-20 cm). They are palmate-shaped, green, with toothed margins and 3 to 7 lobes.
- Great masterwort plants bloom from spring through fall (June to September). During their flowering period, they produce numerous umbrella-shaped inflorescences.
- Their flowers show up in lovely and tiny clusters crowded together in 10 to 20 dome-shaped flowerheads (floral bracts). They can exhibit various shades of greenish to white, red, pink, and rarely purple.
- While the external blossoms only have male parts, the central ones are hermaphrodite. These plants also feature many colourful stamens.
Growing Great Masterwort
Astrantia plants are woodland perennials, so they will grow at their best in partially shaded areas. In indoor settings, place your plants near a south or east-facing window to provide them with some dappled light during the day. In hotter climates, make sure you cover the windows with curtain sheers to protect them from direct sunlight.
Outdoors, plant your beauties in a location where they can receive some filtered shade all-day-round. You can also look for a spot to expose them to plenty of morning sun with full shade during harsh afternoon sunlight. If you live in a region with cooler summer months, these plants will do just fine in sunnier places.
In terms of temperatures, great masterwort plants thrive in cool climates. They do well in average room conditions and prefer nighttime temperatures that range from 59 to 70 °F (15-21 °C). In general, these flowers cannot tolerate cooler or freezing temperatures. In regions with harsh winters, it is best to grow your plants in pots and bring them inside in autumn.
Fungal diseases like powdery mildew and downy mildew can put your Great masterwort plants in danger. They usually appear as whitish-grey patches on the leaves and stems, resulting in irreversible damage with time. You can avoid these infections by not over-watering and over-crowding, providing adequate air circulation, and keeping weeds under control.
Some pests including aphids, slugs, and leafminers can also bother Great masterwort plants once in a while. These intruders feed on the leaves and stems. In the case of infestation, remove the affected parts of their foliage and, if possible, handpick the pests. You can use neem oil, insecticidal soap, or suitable insecticides/pesticides for severe cases.
Planting Great Masterwort
Great masterwort plants show the best results in acidic, well-draining soils that are rich in nutrients and organic matter. If the soil from your garden has sand or sticky clay, this may cause the substrate to dry out more quickly. Before planting, you can mix a generous amount of organic matter with the soil, such as compost, leaf mould, or well-rotted manure. Moreover, these plants will appreciate an extra inch or two (2.5-5 cm) of compost every autumn.
If you want to grow your Great masterwort plants in pots, plant them so their crown is just above the surface of the soil. Once potted, provide them with water and apply a broad-spectrum fungicide to avoid root and crown rot. When your plants start to outgrow their pot, repot them in another that is one size larger than the current one.
These flowers will benefit from regular applications of fertilizer once or twice a year. Feed your Great masterwort plants with a light, all-purpose, and slow-release fertilizer. Make sure you are following the package instructions and keep fertilizers away from their foliage and crown.
Although great masterwort plants do not need regular pruning, you can extend their flowering period by doing it. Remove any old or spent flowers to make room for new ones to emerge. You should also cut them back in late fall or early winter to ensure new growth for the next spring.
Watering Great Masterwort
Unlike other perennial species, great masterwort plants can actually do just fine in constantly damp soil. And this is what makes them one of the greatest houseplants to have around! If you are a beginner gardener, it is safe to say that these flowers are the ideal companion for you. In the case of occasional over-watering, they will not hesitate to forgive you right away.
You must water your great masterwort plants regularly, especially when the summer months are hot and dry. Typically, these flowers cannot withstand drought pretty well. When they receive less water than needed, their foliage will turn yellowish-brown. Also, they will produce fewer blossoms.
As a general rule, you cannot go wrong if you check the soil in-between waterings. When the soil feels dry to the touch, it is the perfect time to give your plants a nice soaking. During the winter months, these plants go dormant and you can skip watering.
Propagating Great Masterwort
With their delicate and stunning flowers, great masterwort plants can do nothing but charm us endlessly! They are one of a kind and can bring a dash of personality to any garden or home from the very beginning. So, how can we make more of these babies and enjoy their presence for as long as possible? Luckily, we can propagate them very easily through division and seed.
To divide your mature Astrantia plants, you must first dig them out of the soil in early spring or early fall. Use a spade and divide the clump into two halves without damaging their roots. After this, all you have to do is replant the divided parts in their permanent spots and care for them as usual.
If you want to start Astrantia plants from seed, wait for the autumn to come around. At the beginning of the cold season, remove the seeds from the mother plants and start cold stratification. This process consists of sowing the seeds in a container and digging it into the ground. The seeds will usually germinate on their own and show some growth in spring.
Astrantia plats can make a perfect new member of your plant family? Not only do great masterwort flowers look absolutely gorgeous, but they are also very easy to grow, care for, and even propagate.
Now go on and give this flower a try and we can guarantee you that there is not a better companion to have by your side this summer! And don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments below!