Flowers and bud of White asphodel or Asphodelus albus. Getty Images

Asphodelus albus

White asphodel

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

  • Botanical name: Asphodelus albus
  • Common name: White asphodel
  • Family: Asphodelaceae
  • Plant Type: Perennial, Deciduous
Flower colour:

Green

White or white-flowered asphodel (Asphodelus albus) is a European native plant widespread throughout Mediterranean regions, thriving on well-drained sites in sun and blooming in late spring and early summer. White asphodel is an excellent drought-tolerant plant to grow on banks, in gravel gardens, Mediterranean-style plantings, or well-drained sunny borders, to give early-season colour and architectural effect. The blooms are attractive to pollinating insects.

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The flower spikes look attractive for months, both for their imposing shape and also because the many small white flowers, star-shaped and individually up to 4cm across, open in succession from bottom to top of the spike. Each petal is subtly marked with brown veining down the centre. Long stamens give each flower a ‘whiskered’ appearance, protruding beyond the petals and tipped with reddish-orange. Many blooms make up the flower spike which is borne on a sturdy leafless stem, usually single but sometimes branched, arising from arching clumps of long, slender, mid-green to grey-green leaves which are around 3cm wide and up to 60cm long. If the summer is favourable, rounded reddish or purplish fruits follow the flowers.

White asphodel must have a sunny site and well-drained soil that is low in fertility in order to thrive, as the fleshy roots are liable to rot in moisture-retentive soil. Once established, white asphodel is an easy-care plant that will regrow year after year and needs virtually no care apart from cutting back the dead growth once dormant. Propagate white asphodel from seed, or by division during late winter.

In Greek mythology, asphodel was associated with death and the underworld. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, asphodel was an ingredient in a potion called the Draught of Living Death.

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White asphodel is not related to bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) which is a wetland plant native to Britain.

How to grow Asphodelus albus

  • Plant size

    100cm height

    60cm spread

  • Aspect

    South facing, east facing, west facing

  • Position in border

    Middle

  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil type: Well drained / light / sandy

Plant calendar

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do not Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do not Cut back in July

Do Cut back in August

Do Cut back in September

Do not Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

Asphodelus albus and wildlife

Asphodelus albus is known for attracting bees.

Attractive to Bees

Does not attract Beneficial insects

Does not attract Birds

Does not attract Butterflies​/​Moths

Does not attract Other pollinators

Is Asphodelus albus poisonous?

Asphodelus albus is harmful if ingested and causes an upset stomach. Its roots are toxic.

Toxic to:

Toxic to Cats

Toxic to Dogs

Toxic to Horses

Toxic to Livestock

Toxic to People

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds