The Orange star, also known as the Sun Star or Star of Bethlehem is a beautiful perennial bulb from South Africa. Orange Stars are extremely easy to grow even for beginners, so if you see one in stores don’t hesitate to put it in your shopping cart. While they are a bulb plant, they do not grow extremely large or aggressively so they are perfect for container gardens and windowsills.
Scientific Name: Ornithogalum Dubium
From: South Africa
Zones: 9 to 10
Height: 1 ft tall at most
Orange Stars love bright indirect sunlight. Keep them in a sunny room near a window if possible. They can actually sit in a windowsill and get direct light so long as it is not all day—more than 4 hours. Avoid putting them in a dark room as this will not help them bloom and will cause their growth to stunt.
Orange Stars love moist soil as most bulbs do but not soggy soil as this can cause the bulb to rot. An easy way to avoid overwatering is to plant it in a container with a drainage hole. However, you will want to make sure you avoid letting the soil dry out, especially when it is growing. During its dormancy period in the winter it is okay to pause watering almost completely.
If you are growing Orange Stars in a container indoors use liquid fertilizer at half the label rate every other month. During its blooming period you will want to remove spent flower spikes entirely so that they are no longer absorbing nutrients, allowing new flowers to grow. This may seem drastic, but trust me, it helps the bulb store energy for its next season. When pruning, leave the normal foliage alone and let it die back on its own. Once all of the green is gone you can store it in a dark place until it is time to start growing again in the spring. If you are planting your bulbs in the ground it is best to dig them up before winter if you live in zones 1-5 and put them in a container inside as they can freeze—South Africa doesn’t get that cold!
While these plants are extremely vibrant their blooms, unfortunately, last a very short period ranging from one to three months—so appreciate them while you can. They are a bulb so they will go through a dormancy period after flowering. During its decline, it can sometimes look very sad but that is completely normal! Wilting and withering during the cusp of spring to summer is normal.
The rate at which you can propagate an Orange Star is unfortunately in their own control. Since they are a bulb they will continue to create their own new bulbs underneath the soil during its growth period. Depending on the size of your container you may have to wait 1-2 full seasons (years) before needing to replant it in a bigger container or separating the bulbs.