A Reader Asks About Ornithogalum Chesapeake Snowflake
To brighten up our home I've bought a plant - the Star of Bethlehem
(Ornithogalum Chesapeake Snowflake), which produced fantastic spikes of
flowers. However, I've gone on-line to find out how to care for this
variety, and have two schools of instructions.
One website said to let cut the fading flowers at the base of the
stalk, not to touch the leaves and let the bulbs go dormant as they'll
flower again in the Spring.
The other website said that as the bulbs were indoor ones I could get
up to four flowering periods a year from them, so keep watering and
These are two very opposite instructions, therefore please could you
advise me which one should I follow as I would like to keep this plant
for the length we're staying here.
I hope in the meantime to add color to the patio with flowering plants
in tubs as that's allowed and it'll be great to sit outside in balmy
weather with a glass of wine to enjoy them and end the day.
Thank you for your help,
This Ornithogalum (Ornithogalum Chesapeake Snowflake) is a relatively
new introduction and "both" websites might be right. Here's the deal.
This plant blooms for a very long time producing one or two flower
stems in succession for several months. Each individual flower stem
will bloom for 4-6 weeks.
So you're going to get an incredibly long bloom time from this bulb. Do
cut the stalks off as low as possible when they are finished
(cosmetically appealing). I'm not so sure about the don't touch the
leaves routine but....
So - it does continue to produce new stems but it stops doing this
after a few months (depending on the health and strength of the bulb
and the temperatures).
Temperatures over 90F will push it into dormancy as it is what we call
a "summer dormant" bulb (like tulips and daffodils) and it will bloom
for the longest time around 75F.
It is an outdoor bulb in a USDA zone 9 and an indoor bulb everywhere
Can you get it to rebloom? I'm not sure. I've never grown it but it
seems to be used as a pot plant and bedding plant in the commercial
It is produced from tissue culture and the growing time from started
small bulb to finished pot plant is 25 weeks.
I suspect if you kept it cool and dry for 12-16 weeks after it finished
blooming, and then gave it a shot of very hight heat - (90F) until it
started producing leaves - then 65F until it produced blooms, you'd
likely get more flowers but don't quote me on that.
The literature sounds a trifle confusing about getting this hybrid to
bloom again - but it's worth experimenting with to be sure.
Water until damp and then allow the soil to dry to finger dry - water
thoroughly again. In other words, don't allow to go to desert or swamp.
And good luck.
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