Plant Type
Sunlight Amount

Masterwort bears interesting flowers in late spring and early summer that look like pincushions. But what really makes this plant special is that it’s one of only a few cut flowers that thrives in shade. So if your landscape doesn’t get a lot of sun—but you still want to grow a cutting garden or add some color outdoors—this is a good plant to put on your list.

genus name
  • Astrantia
  • Part Sun
plant type
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • From 1 to 2 feet
flower color
foliage color
season features
special features
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7

Garden Plans For Masterwort

Season-Long Plan

Masterwort Care Must-Knows

As a woodland plant, masterwort appreciates a spot in part shade: filtered shade all day or morning sun with shade during the hottest part of the afternoon. If you live in a cool-summer climate where the temperature rarely peaks past 75 degrees F, you can grow masterwort in sunnier spots as well as shade.

This woodland perennial does best in soil that's moist, well-drained, and rich in organic matter. If your ground includes a lot of sticky clay or sand that causes soil to dry up quickly, amend it with a liberal amount of organic matter before you plant masterwort. Adding an inch or two of compost every fall also helps.

Water masterwort regularly, especially during hot, dry periods. This plant doesn't tolerate drought well, so you may find it blooms less and displays crispy brown foliage if it doesn't get enough moisture over the summer. In fact, masterwort likes moist soil and can thrive in the kind of consistently wet soil that causes other perennials to suffer root rot.

In areas that tend to be hotter than masterwort likes, help it along by spreading a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch over the soil. This keeps soil damp longer because there's less moisture lost to evaporation, making it more available to your plants. Mulching also keeps the soil temperature cooler for the roots and suppresses weeds. Plus, organic mulches, such as compost, shredded wood, or pine needles, decompose over time, improving the quality of your soil.

You can extend masterwort's bloom season by removing old flowers as they fade (deadheading). With regular deadheading, this perennial continues to bloom into July. Not much pruning is needed. You can cut masterwort back to a couple of inches tall in late fall or early winter after frost kills the foliage. Or leave it standing for winter interest, then trim stems back to a couple of inches tall in early spring as new growth resumes.

Using Masterwort in the Garden

Enjoy masterwort in the middle or back of shaded garden beds and borders. Its upright habit makes it a perfect partner for mounding hostas and other shade-garden plants.

Because this plant enjoys moist soil, you can grow it near streams or water gardens, or in areas such as ditches that tend to stay wet. If you have a leaky water spigot on the north side of your house, masterwort planted nearby will love the regular supply of moisture!

Though it's a perennial in Zones 4 to 7, you can enjoy masterwort as an annual if you grow it in large containers. This lets you enjoy the intricate, unusual flowers up close on your shaded deck or patio. 

More Varieties of Masterwort

'Abbey Road' masterwort

This variety of Astrantia major is a fun selection with dark pink to light red flowers held on rich purple-red stems. The foliage sometimes displays burgundy tones. It grows 30 inches tall.

'Buckland' masterwort

This selection of Astrantia is a hybrid that bears light pink flowers from early spring until early to midsummer. It grows 3 feet tall when happy.

'Dark Shiny Eyes' masterwort

Astrantia major shows off rich, violet-red flowers that are deeper in color than those of many other varieties. It grows about 2 feet tall.

'Hadspen Blood' masterwort

Dark red flowers set this variety of Astrantia major apart. Flowers appear from early to late summer in cool climates. It grows about 2 feet tall.

'Roma' masterwort

Astrantia major 'Roma' is a patented hybrid that bears large pink flowers from late spring to midsummer. It typically reaches 2 feet tall.

'Snow Star' masterwort

This variety of Astrantia features white flowers that look particularly nice in evening and moon gardens. It grows about 30 inches tall.

'Ruby Wedding' masterwort

Astrantia major is another selection that displays eye-catching red flowers on 2-foot-tall stems that rise above the foliage. It's one of the most commonly available red varieties.

Plant Masterwort With:

Astilbe, Astilbe
  • zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • light: Part Sun, Sun
  • flower color: Purple, Red, White, Pink
  • foliage color: Blue/Green
  • plant type: Perennial
  • height: 1 to 3 feet, 3 to 8 feet
  • season features: Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
  • special features: Attracts Birds, Fragrance, Good for Containers, Cut Flowers
  • problem solvers: Deer Resistant, Groundcover

Astilbe brings a graceful, feathering note to moist, shady landscapes. In cooler climates in the northern third or so of the country, it can tolerate full sun provided it has a constant supply of moisture. In drier sites, however, the leaves will scorch in full sun.Feathery plumes of white, pink, lavender, or red flowers rise above the finely divided foliage from early to late summer depending on the variety. It will spread slowly over time where well-situated. Most commercially available types are complex hybrids.

Iris, Iris reticulata
  • zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • light: Sun
  • flower color: Blue
  • plant type: Bulb
  • height: Under 6 inches
  • season features: Spring Bloom, Winter Bloom
  • special features: Low Maintenance, Fragrance

Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, iris indeed comes in a rainbow of colors and in many heights. All have the classic, impossibly intricate flowers. The flowers are constructed with three upright "standard" petals and three drooping "fall" petals, which are often different colors. The falls may be "bearded" or not. Some cultivars bloom a second time in late summer. Some species prefer alkaline soil while others prefer acidic soil.Shown above: Immortality iris

Flax, Linum perenne
  • zones: 5, 6, 7, 8
  • light: Part Sun, Sun
  • flower color: Blue
  • foliage color: Chartreuse/Gold
  • plant type: Perennial
  • height: 1 to 3 feet
  • season features: Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
  • special features: Low Maintenance, Attracts Birds, Good for Containers
  • problem solvers: Groundcover, Drought Tolerant, Slope/Erosion Control

Look at the delicate little flax plant with its masses of open, silky flowers, often in purest blue, and it's hard to imagine that it can also produce tough linen fibers. Each bloom lasts but a day, but the plant stays in bloom for a while since it produces so many -- not only in blue, but also clear yellow, depending on the variety.Flax must have a light, free-draining soil. Wet feet will kill it. Flax enjoys full sun but will tolerate light shade, especially in the Southern portion of the United States.