Allium cristophii, commonly referred to as the Star of Persia or Persian onion, is the type of flowering plant that can completely change the overall vibe of your garden with its presence. Member of the Amaryllidaceae family, the Star of Persia is a popular ornamental plant worldwide and we can see why!
It is a super easy-to-grow plant and its superb silvery purple flowers will fit into absolutely every plant collection in little to no time.
If the Star of Persia stole your heart from the very first glance, you must wait for the autumn to come before adding it to your garden. This plant shows up in garden stores only at the end of this season, as it goes dormant during the summer and autumn months. You might also want to look for the Allium albopilosum since some shops still sell it under this name.
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|Botanical Name||Allium Cristophii|
|Common Name||Ornamental onion, Star of Persia, Persian Onion|
|Plant Type||Bulb plant|
|Mature Size||12-24 in. tall, 6-12 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Moist but well-draining chalk, clay, loam, sand|
|Soil pH||Acid, alkaline, neutral|
|Bloom Time||Late Spring, Early Summer|
|Flower Color||Pink, Violet|
|Hardiness Zones||5-8 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Iran, Turkey and Central Asia|
About Star of Persia
- The Star of Persia is native to various regions of Turkey, Iran, and central Asia. It grows on gravelly, soft mountain slopes at relatively high elevations.
- There is no doubt that the infinite beauty of this plant makes it a well-deserved recipient of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
- The Star of Persia will look spectacular in beds, borders, cottage gardens, gravel gardens, rock gardens, informal gardens, large sweeping drifts, or group plantings. It is also an excellent cut flower for both fresh and dried arrangements.For a gorgeous visual impact, you can plant the Star of Persia with other alluring species. Companions for it include English Rose, Coral Bells, Oriental Poppy, Ornamental Onion, Green Santolina, Common Foxglove, Rose Campion, Great Masterwort, Peach-Leaved Bellflower, Iris, Peony, Delphinium, and Russian Sage.
- Allium plants, including Star of Persia, grow well alongside many different plants but can also be planted in vegetable gardens near carrots and beet. It is important to mention, however, that allium plants may inhibit the growth of legumes and they are generally considered bad companions for alfalfa – each species negatively affecting the other.
- The Star of Persia will provide nectar and pollen for many species of pollinating insects and bees. It is highly attractive to butterflies and might come along with a strong onion fragrance.
- This flowering plant is not a picky plant that comes with very particular and super demanding needs. It can usually do just fine with lots of sunlight, regular rainfalls, and well-draining soil. The plant can also tolerate slightly cold winters.
- The Star of Persia plant doesn’t really have any interesting uses, but the juice of most plants in the Allium family has a strong onion or garlic smell that is thought to be an effective moth repellent. Some gardeners use this plant and other Allium plants to repel unwanted insects and moles. Star of Persia is not attractive to deer.
- Like most bulb plants, the Star of Persia is pretty toxic to animals. You don’t have to worry about this plant too much, as no individual reports regarding human Allium cristophii poisoning were recorded, there have been some cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. When it comes to Allium plants, dogs seem to be particularly sensitive, so make sure you plant it where your curious cats, dogs, or kids will not reach it.
Star of Persia Features: An Overview
- The Star of Persia belongs to the Allium genus which includes ornamental plants but also many familiar edible plants such as garlic, onion, and leeks. The ornamental plants from the Allium family make perfect additions to cottage gardens and other type of flower gardens with their showy round blossoms in shades of blue, purple, white and pink.
- Star of Persia is a perennial flowering plant that can reach from 6 to 20 inches (15-50 cm) in height.
- This plant naturalizes super easily. It is an exquisite ornamental onion with attractive foliage that consists of many basal, narrow, hairy, and green leaves.
- The Star of Persia usually blooms throughout the spring months but, depending on the climate, the blooming period can be prolongued until early summer. Star of Persia keeps its ornamental value even after its blooming through its dry flowers.
- During its flowering season, the plant produces a large and showy globe-shaped cluster that contains many small, star-shaped, silvery pink to purple blossoms. They measure between 7.9 and 9.8 inches (20-25 cm) in diameter.
- The large flowering heads of Star of Persia make perfect additions to bouquets and flower arrangements, so you can definitely add this plant to your cutting garden if you are on the lookout for a unique plant.
- After blooming, the flowers may turn into attractive fruiting clusters. The fruits are brownish copper capsules that feature several black seeds.
Growing Star of Persia
If you want your Star of Persia to thrive in your garden or in your home, there are several requirements this plant has that you will have to pay some attention to. No worries, though! Although you need to pay a bit of extra attention to this flower, it is not as picky as you might imagine.
If you remember a few important details and spoil your garden with lots of love, you will surely enjoy a thriving Star of Persia in your plant family for a long time.
When it comes to lighting, the Star of Persia will benefit from a particular type of exposure which will increase the chances of healthy growth and profuse flowering. This plant requires lots of sunlight throughout the year, especially during its active growing period.
Make sure you plant this buddy in a spot where it can receive as much full sunlight as it can. In general, it will do nicely in sites with at least eight hours of bright and direct light each day.
The Star of Persia is a hardy companion that can tolerate winter overall conditions in the USDA regions 5 through 8. This plant will do just fine in temperatures that drop as low as 14 to 23 °F (-10 to -5 °C).
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When it goes dormant, usually in summer and autumn, the Star of Persia will appreciate a general dry period. Because of this, it would be wise to keep it indoors if you live in an area with frequent rainfalls during its dormant season.
In terms of pest infestations and fungal diseases, luckily, you will not encounter serious problems with your Star of Persia. Even if this plant can get a few diseases like rot or downy mildew, you can easily prevent them from occurring.
All you need to do is avoid watering your Star of Persia from above as the water remaining on them can help diseases to show up. And in case an infection has already appeared on your plant, you should remove the infected bulbs right away.
Some intruders that might visit your Star of Persia include slugs, snails, and leaf miners. However, these pests do not particularly affect the leaves of this plant so badly. The foliage of Star of Persia does not generally last very long, so a bit of damage on it should not worry you too much.
Planting Star of Persia
Without a doubt, the ideal time to plant your Star of Persia is in autumn when it typically ends its dormant period. This is the season when you will most likely find Star of Persia, and its close relative Ornamental Onion, and other type of bulb plants in garden shops, nurseries, or markets, so you should look for them if you have fallen in love with this beauty.
The Allium cristophii bulbs should be planted fairly deeply because this plant does not like to compete with other plants. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants.
A very interesting feature of the Star of Persia is its ability to grow in absolutely any type of soil. Keep in mind, though, that it will do so only if the substrate comes along with excellent drainage. Besides the well-draining characteristic, the Star of Persia also prefers a soil pH that is more on the acidic side, with values around 5.5 to 6.5.
If your garden soil does not have very good drainage, you can add a generous amount of organic matter to it before planting your Star of Persia. Likewise, the organic matter will ensure enough water reaches the bulb.
In case you opt for amending the soil with organic matter regularly, you can skip fertilizing your Star of Persia for good. But if not and you grow this plant in poor soil, a touch of fertilizer might be more than helpful for it. Once it begins to set flowers, feed your Star of Persia with an all-purpose balanced fertilizer. This yearly application will give your plant enough energy to use for blooming.
When the flowering period of your Star of Persia has ended, pruning would be more than welcome in its caring routine. In other words, trimming the flower stalks down when the time is right will move the plant’s focus to store its energy in the bulb.
This process is beneficial for your plant but is not mandatory. Some gardeners choose to leave the dried flower heads where they are and enjoy their splendour on the plant for as long as they stay on it.
Watering Star of Persia
By now, you might have noticed that the Star of Persia rewards gardeners with its super low-demanding nature. But wait to see how perfect this plant is thanks to its minimal requirements when it comes to watering!
If you live in a location with regular rainfalls, you can even forget that this plant exists in your garden, as it will get the needed moisture from Mother Nature. What can be more satisfying and easy-going than this?
In general, the Star of Persia does well with infrequent watering. It does not really matter how often you water this plant as long as its soil remains damp to the touch. Some gardeners prefer to water their Star of Persia plants once every three to five days.
Still, the frequency of watering might be different for you depending on the weather and other growing conditions.
Propagating Star of Persia
The Star of Persia emerges from bulbs that can make for a wonderful propagation material if you want to obtain more specimens. This plant is worth all the time and tiny effort you put in growing and caring for it and it is only natural to dream of a garden full of it.
And if some of your family members or friends have seen your Star of Persia and still have it in their minds, even better! You can make a few for them and ease their minds in just a few steps.
The best time to propagate your Star of Persia is in autumn, as this is also the suggested time to plant the bulbs. Before getting into action, you must know that this bulb-growing plant multiplies relatively slowly. But once your plant begins to form small offsets on its bulb, nothing can stop you!
When the Star of Persia has ended its blooming season, you can lift the bulbs and remove the tiny offsets from it. After this, replant the offsets immediately wherever you want. The depth of planting must be two to three times the diameter of each bulb in particular.
Make sure you water the offsets well after you plant them and cross your fingers until the next spring. And promise us you will not get sad when you see that the new specimens do not produce any flowers. It may take a couple of years before the young Star of Persia plants bloom.
If your garden is lacking a dash of purple and you have absolutely no idea what plant to add to it next, the Star of Persia can be the perfect candidate for it. The fabulous appearance of this plant mixed with its almost independent nature can turn it into one of your favourite ornamental companions out there.
You can grow it alongside many different flowering plants and even in your vegetable garden (just not near legumes) and you can also grow it in your cutting garden. Allium cristophii, commonly known as Star of Persia, will easily self-propagate through bulbs and will return to your garden every spring if the environmental conditions are good. If you make this versatile ornamental onion a member of your plant family, your garden will surely be more full of life!
Do you already grow at least one Star of Persia in your garden? We would be more than excited to find out more about your journey, so we warmly recommend you share it in the comment section!