How to Grow Shooting Stars — Dodecatheon

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Dodecatheon–commonly called shooting stars–is a perennial that bears shuttlecock-shaped flowers in spring. The pendant flowers are borne on arching stems; the petals are acutely reflexed, displaying long, beadlike stamens.

Dodecatheon is native to damp meadows and high alpine meadows. It prefers full sun where summers are cool. It can be grown in partial afternoon shade where summers are warm.

Dodecatheon has basal rosettes of ovate to inversely lance-shaped leaves. After flowering in late spring or early summer, Dodecatheon drops its leaves and goes dormant.

Dodecatheon is native to woodlands and alpine meadows in North America. It is a genus of 14 perennials.

Get to know Dodecatheon

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4-8
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 3
  • Height and width: 16 inches (40cm) tall and 6 inches (15cm) wide
  • Foliage: Basal rosettes of ovate to inversely lance-shaped, spoon-shaped, or oblong, leaves
  • Flowers: Umbels of pendent, cyclamen-like flowers borne on arching stems; petals are reflected
  • Bloom time: Spring into summer; plant go dormant in summer after flowerig
  • Uses: Woodland or rock garden
  • Common name: Shooting stars, American cowslip
  • Botanical name: Dodecatheon
  • Family name: Primulaceae
  • Origin: North America
Shooting star, Dodecatheon pulchellum

Where to Plant Dodecatheon

  • Grow Dodecatheon in full sun or partial shade.
  • Plant Dodecatheon in well-drained, humus-rich soil.
  • Where summers are warm, plant Dodecatheon where it will get afternoon shade; Dodecatheon prefers cool conditions.

When to plant Dodecatheon

  • Set container-grwon Dodecatheon outdoors in spring.

Planting and spacing Dodecatheon

  • Space Dodecatheon 6 inches (15cm) apart.

How to water and feed Dodecatheon

  • Keep the soil evenly moist; Dodecatheon needs abundant moisture during the growing season.
  • Fertilize Dodecatheon with an all-purpose, organic fertilizer in spring.

Dodecatheon care

  • Mulch Dodecatheon to keep the soil moist and cool.
  • Mark the location of Dodecatheon before plants go dormant in summer; combine Dodecatheon with perennials and annuals that can fill the gap when Dodecatheon goes dormant.

Dodecatheon pests and diseases

  • Leaves may be eaten by slugs and snails.
  • Rust can be a problem.

Dodecatheon propagation

  • Sow seeds in containers in an open frame as soon as ripe; seeds need exposure to cold before they will germinate.
  • Divide Dodecatheon in spring.

Dodecatheon varieties to grow

  • Dodecatheon clevelandii. Rosette-forming perianl bear umbles of reddish purple flwoer to 3/4 inch across with yellow tubes, spotted purple at the throat; grows to 16 inches tall and 6 inches wide.
  • D. dentatum. Clump-forming perennial with umbels of 2 to 5 slender stemmed white flowers, sometimes purple spotted at the petal bases with promientn dark purple anthers; grows to 8 inches tall and wide.
  • D. meadia, shooting stars. Clump-forming perennial with umbels of up to 15 magenta-pink flowers less than 1 inch across; blooms mid to late spring; grows 16 inches tall and 10 inches wide.
  • D. pulchellum. Clump-forming perennial with ovate-spoon-shaped midgreen leaves; umbels of 20 deep cerise-pink flowers; grows to 14 inches tall and 6 inches wide.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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