Germinating Astrantia

Astrantia (Masterwort) is a cottage garden plant that you don’t see around often. It has a particularly unusual and beautiful flower and I really fell for it the first time I saw it – though I can’t remember where or when.

Unfortunately, this Astrantia in the picture isn’t what I have in the garden, it was actually in an NGS Garden that we went to earlier this year. Recently however, I did buy an Astrantia plant when it suddenly appeared at reduced price in the local garden centre. I snapped it up but have kept it in its pot as I can’t make my mind up on where I want to plant it.

While I’ve been procrastinating about where it should go, it’s already set seed, which I’ve collected and just sowed in a multi-cell tray. I’ve tried looking on the internet for how to sow and germinate Astrantia and the general opinion is that it’s not easy and that’s why people buy them as plants. General advice varies:

  • You may or may not need to stratify the seeds (put them in the fridge for a few weeks)
  • Seeds are best sown fresh but even old seed can germinate
  • There’s no real indication  how long it takes for seed to germinate
  • It seems you can sow seeds any time of year and they may come up, eventually

Overall, it’s not encouraging and so I’ve decided to experiment by splitting the seeds I’ve harvested in two. I’ve sown half now and will leave the rest in the greenhouse to over-winter and stratify. I’ll then sow those next spring and see what happens.

Either way, I hope I end up with lots of Astrantia seedlings. They apparently grow quite fast once they get going and flower early. The only trouble will be finding room to plant them as we really are running out of space!


  1. Astrantia are a great plant, but not used near enough by most gardeners. I particularly like the varietites with darker red/purple blooms.


    1. Yes, I don’t see them around very often. They tend to end up in larger gardens or where the people are keen gardeners as you have to seek them out to buy them. Personally, I prefer the white varieties that are flushed with red or have the green tips on the petals. I’m not a fan of the darker red-wine coloured flowers.


  2. Sunil, I know exactly when and where I saw Astrantia for the first time — it was at Sissinghurst in June 2000. I took photos of it, including the tag with the name of the plant and knew that I had to have it. I now have 3 different varieties in my garden, but I never thought of collecting seed to grow new plants. I hope yours do well.


    1. Hi Jean, it could be a very long wait until the Astrantia seeds germinate, if they ever do. I don’t think I’ll be writing about them again for some time. I hope I do have some success as I really would like more plants. It’s just a shame that the variety I’ve bought smells pretty bad.


  3. I have been after Astrantia for a while but also haven’t been able to find them anywhere. They were available on the Crocus website but it’s rather expensive and also they won’t give you any idea when they will deliver so I was worried about them dying off in the post. Having said that, I did buy some plants in their sale 2 years ago and they have all been very robust specimens.

    Anyway, I will await your seeds with interest. I am not good at giving seeds the attention they deserve so feel nervous about attempting this myself. Good luck!


  4. Success at last. ? having sown and left seeds in seed tray around September last year, kept looking , then gave up believing them to have failed. About a month ago (6months later) I saw a number of seedlings…..were they weeds? or possibly the Astrantia …yes the latter…so happy my very first ones .


    1. Hello Lynne, well done! I’m afraid that we lost track of ours in moving gardens. We haven’t tried since as we’ve been so busy working on the borders but from experience, the Astrantia seeds that do germinate are the ones around the parent plant that have fallen to the ground naturally and been left undisturbed to self-seed. Try giving them ideal conditions in a seed tray and you’ll need a lot of luck!


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