Astrantias, commonly known as masterworts or Hattie’s pincishion, are cottage garden stalwarts with beautiful pincushion flowers in a range of different colours. Suitable for partial shade and moist soils, astrantias are slug- and snail-proof too, making them a valuable asset in any border. Flowering from June to August, they provide a long season of colour for us, and pollen and nectar for insects.
How to grow astrantias
Grow astrantias in moist soil in partial shade. Cut back after flowering to encourage a second flush of blooms, and mulch annually. Astrantias can be grown in drier soils as long as they’re watered and mulched regularly.
More on growing astrantias:
Where to plant astrantias
Astrantias thrive in heavy, damp soil, ideally incorporated with plenty of organic matter such as home-made compost, well-rotted manure or leaf mould. They’re happy in sun but will do better in dappled shade.
How to plant astrantias
Dig a planting hole, remove your plant from its pot and position it in the hole. Backfill with soil and firm in well. Water the plant thoroughly and keep watering through the first summer, especially if you have a free-draining soil. Add organic matter to increase soil fertility and conserve moisture. The plants won’t need staking.
How to look after astrantias
Astrantias require very little care. Cut the foliage and flowers hard back in autumn or spring. Plants require no support.
Caroline Samuel of Letham Plants gives her three top tips for growing astrantias, in this video guide:
How to propagate astrantias
Astrantias can be divided in spring. Lift the plant with a garden fork and pull the plant apart. Replant straight away or pot divisions on.
You can also grow astrantias from seed, either by collecting seeds from your own plants and sowing in late summer, or sowing shop-bought seeds under cover in spring.
In this video clip from Gardeners’ World, Carol Klein demonstrates how to collect astrantia seed in autumn, and sow it straight away:
Find out how to sow astrantia see in summer, in our video guide with Monty Don:
Growing astrantias: problem solving
Astrantias are trouble-free plants and are usually untroubled by garden pests such as slugs and snails. However they may be susceptible to fungal powdery mildews, which form as a white coating on the plant’s leaves. In autumn, cut back the plants and dispose of, or burn the leaves. Apply a mulch to the soil to prevent any remaining fungal spores splashing up on the plants in spring. Plants that have dried out or are under stress are more likely to be a target.
Dry for cut flowers
Astrantias make excellent dried flowers. Cut the flowers in summer and hang them upside down in a warm dry place.
Astrantia varieties to grow
- Astrantia major ‘Roma’ – soft pink flowers
- Astrantia major ‘Venice’ – deep ruby red flowers on a clump-forming plant. This is one of the darkest colours you’ll find
- Astrantia ‘Buckland’ – ideal for a pastel scheme with soft green and pink bracts and flowers. Slightly larger flowers than other varieties
- Astrantia major ‘Hadspen Blood’ – very dark, deep red bracts and pink flowers over dark foliage. Almost black margins on the leaves and flowers
- ‘Astrantia major ‘Alba’ – white flowers with greenish white bracts over green foliage.