6 min read
Also recognized as Brodiaea milla or Tristagma, this Ipheion forms a basal tuft that is 20-25cm long, and produces ribboned, pale bluish-green, linear leaves that resemble coarse grass.
From March to May, solitary, star-shaped, pale lavender-blue flowers with a darker midrib, fade to white, 2 to 4cm in diameter, and exhale a pleasant sweet smell, a bit like honey. The Ipheion uniflorum likes a well-drained, light, even slightly dry soil in sunny conditions. Divide the two compact clumps in September. Remember to protect it with light mulch.
You can plant the Ipheion uniflorum in groups of at least 50 bulbs for an interesting mass effect or under deciduous shrubs that bloom in spring, accompanied by perennials such as crocuses or narcissi.
Today, in this article, we are going to shed light on the beautiful starflower, and you can learn the following:
* Species and varieties
* Main characteristics
* Cultivation in pots
* Care and maintenance
The spring starflower is a pretty little bulbous perennial of the Alliacea/Liliaceae family. It blooms early from December in mild climates and grows everywhere, without requiring any maintenance. Its star-shaped, fragrant blue, white to mauve flowers, blossom early every year and light up the shady areas of the garden in winter.
This South American plant grows naturally in the high meadows and rocky outcrops of Argentina. It can withstand temperatures from -10 degrees to -15 degrees C in these regions over a short period.
The leaves of the Ipheion, also known as “Garlic of the Incas,” are edible. The Ipheion brings a touch of freshness to the garden alongside other spring bulbs such as daffodils, wood anemones, hyacinths, and botanical tulips. Pure white, pinkish mauve, or cobalt blue, choose the Ipheion that suits you to make beautiful spring planters or to flourish your garden from late winter to late spring.
Species and Varieties
The genus includes 10 species, the most widespread of which is the Ipheion uniflorum, which bears pale lavender-blue flowers. From the typical species, we can now distinguish different cultivars with more varied colors, such as Ipheion Uniflorum ‘Charlotte Bishop,’ with pinkish-purple flowers, ‘Froyle Mill,’ with purple flowers, ‘Wisley Blue,’ which is a lilac-blue shade. The white flowers distinguish ‘White Star’ and ‘Alberto Castillo.’
The plant has a lush, low growth habit, forming beautiful ground covers that are sometimes invasive. This small bulbous plant sometimes reseeds spontaneously, but above all, it naturalizes itself quickly on the slopes, in the rocks, or the borders. They can remain in the ground and flower again each spring.
The flowering period lasts about 2 to 3 months, from February-March to May, starting in December in regions with a mild climate, peaking in March and April. Each bulb produces several well-erect and slender flower stems, 10 to 30 cm high.
The starflower consists of six more or less pointed petals (tepals), which vary in size and color from white to pale blue or lilac, depending on the variety. Some Ipheions uniflorum have large, pure white star-shaped flowers, but others, such as ‘Wisley Blue,’ have lilac-blue flowers and ‘Rolf Fiedler’, which has small round stars of a very bright cobalt blue, are a bit different. Some are striated with deeper mid-ribs, while others have lovely shades of blue. They all have a delicate, honey-sweet fragrance.
By late summer, the bulb produces a dense clump of soft grass-like drooping leaves.In autumn, the Ipheions develop deciduous and foliage. In summer, the leaves turn yellow and then disappear. The plant enters a dormant period.
Plant these small bulbs in the autumn, ideally in September or October, in the ground or pots.
Not very demanding on the nature of the soil and the exposure, the Ipheions quickly form flowering mats. They slip everywhere, between plants already in place, and can spread naturally. Additionally, they create splendid mass effects in lawns, meadows, large flower beds, between perennials, in front of shrubs, in a rockery, and along walls, in the sun as well as in the undergrowth.
You can plant it in ordinary, reasonably fertile, fresh, and well-drained soil. Moreover, the starflower doesn’t appreciate excess water. Some even tolerate dry land in summer. Moderately hardy (-10 degrees C -15 degrees C), in regions with harsh winters, mulch the soil to protect them.
They also make beautiful flower pots on a window or terrace. They thrive alongside other early and easy-to-care for spring bulbs such as crocus, narcissus, hyacinths, or early tulips.
Cultivation in Pots
Choose a sunny location on the terrace or balcony. You can also plant starflowers in pots and then install them in the ground. First, spread a layer of clay spheres at the bottom of the container for perfect drainage. Then, fill the jar with a mixture of garden soil, potting soil, and pozzuolana. Plant tightly (about 10 bulbs per pot), avoiding allowing the bulbs touch each other, and cover twice the height of the soil. Make sure to water once or twice a week during the growing season. Additionally, remember to stop watering thoroughly during the dormant period. Finally, do not forget to apply liquid fertilizer once a month.
Care and Maintenance
Ipheions are undemanding plants that do not require a lot care. No pruning is necessary. In cold regions, provide protective mulch in winter or prefer a potted plant. You should water only in case of continued drought.
Avoid cutting the foliage before its natural yellowing. We guarantee you a beautiful flowering the following year. For a beautiful and spectacular decorative effect, plant them en masse, in groups of about 50 bulbs, in flowering carpets.
For potted plants, water once or twice a week and apply liquid fertilizer once a month if necessary. Protect them from slugs and snails that are fond of tender shoots. After five years, you should be able to divide the compact tufts and replant the bulbs initially planted.
With their bright flowering, the Ipheions light up the dark spaces of your garden in winter. They enjoy in many situations and spread slowly but surely in natural gardens without gardeners or weekend gardens, as a flowering carpet, to decorate a rock garden or in pots on a terrace or balcony. Versatile, they can be combined and associated with a multitude of plants that, like them, require little care and maintenance.
Ipheions are easy to grow and are quite robust. These small bulbs are lovely. Their short, star-shaped, fragrant flowers are among the first to bloom in the year. Additionally, they tolerate full sun as well as half-shade. Without maintenance, they naturalize very quickly. They are cultivated in flowering mats as well as in pots.