Ornithogalum

What vivid flower could this be? Why, it's the beautiful Ornithogalum---a mouthful of a name for an extraordinary plant. This elegant flower is native to both South Africa and the Mediterranean, and features a cluster of star-shaped, bell-like flowers gathered at the head of a long, leafless stem.  It’s simply beautiful, so there's no surprise why it's been dubbed "the Wonder Flower."

  Ornithogalum dubium:  The Wonder Flower

Ornithogalum dubium: The Wonder Flower

Historically, there haven't been many US companies who offer Ornithogalum. This is because growing the wondrous thing can pose several challenges--without the right growing environment or variety, its long stems can become tangled or curved, and its cluster of blooms can be sparse and scattered.

However, over the last two decades flower breeders have been working with plant tissue culture, hybridizing varieties to produce stronger, healthier plants as well as first-generation bulbs.  Now, there are varieties which boast taller and straighter stem than their predecessors, as well as blooms that are thickly gathered together at the top.  The other factor that helps these beauties really shine is proper growing practices.

 Ornithogalum dubium growing in a hoop house

Ornithogalum dubium growing in a hoop house

Growing Practices
Because of their Mediterranean origin, these flowering plants are accustomed to warm weather with minimal rain--they're genuine heat-loving children of the sun.

Their bulbs are usually planted in fall (depending on location), and has the plants begin to develop,  they are given plenty of light and kept quite warm.  Once they begin to flower, their environment should be modified to be a little bit cooler, but still with plenty of light. The key here is timing.  The grower must find the perfect equilibrium between warm and cool, light and dark, because an imbalance between these elements will cause the blooms to stretch along the stem instead of gathering beautifully near the top.

The end goal is to have a crop with 40-cm long stems that are thick and strong, topped with flowers blooming in a gathered circle around the head.  The long stems will always have a natural movement and curve to them, which has often been described as a "designer's dream."

 The long stems of Ornithogalum

The long stems of Ornithogalum

Harvest usually spans the spring months, and then the bulbs can be coaxed into dormancy.  If properly done, the bulbs can rest through the summer can be replanted in fall. 

Ornithogalum's long-lasting flowers and robust stems give it an incredible vase life.  Its star-shaped, silky florets bloom in stages all the way to the top of its flower head, a process which can take a few weeks, which means it will look fantastic for at least a month.  The one-two combination of a prolonged vase life paired with incredible presentation creates an overall rewarding experience.

 Ornithogalum colors

Ornithogalum colors