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The starry white blooms of this European native are commonly called star-of-Bethlehem (shown with Spanish bluebells). Approximately 100 species of ornithogalum exist, many of which go by this common name. Plant height varies by species, and some grow as tall as 3 feet. The flowers, however, are similar, with six delicate petals fanned out to expose six stamens. Star-of-Bethlehem is a good choice for naturalizing because it spreads assertively and holds its lovely blooms for 1-2 weeks.
Plant ornithogalum bulbs in the fall in locations with full sun or part shade, spacing bulbs 2-3 inches apart and planting them 3-4 inches deep. A great choice for woodland gardens, ornithogalum naturalizes easily. In fact, bulbs multiply quickly and the plants self-sow readily, so you may want to limit their territory. Although propagation is unnecessary, you can lift plants following their bloom period and remove the small bulbs growing around the larger one. Replant the small bulbs immediately in another spot.
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The late-spring blooms of Ornithogalum thyrsoides are delicate and star-shaped. Crowned atop a 6- to 18-inch-tall plant are 12-30 clustered blooms. Excellent as a cut flower, chincherinchee also is fragrant. This variety grows best in Zones 8-9.
Blooming in the early spring, the hardy Ornithogalum nutans produces single stems covered with 2-inch blooms. Thriving in Zones 6-10, this variety does extremely well in partial shade and grows to 2 feet tall.
Excelling in both full sun or partial shade, O. umbellatum grows 8-12 inches tall and produces spikes of clustered blooms in spring. Growing in Zones 5-10, this variety's lovely, star-shape blossoms are as fragrant as they are delicate. Ornithogalum bulbs and shoots have the added benefit of being impervious to rodents. They are good plants for rock gardens and spread aggressively.