How To Care For Orange Star Plant


Ornithogalum Dubium [or-ni-THOG-al-um, DOO-bee-um] adds bright colors to winter landscapes, making it a popular plant throughout the world.

You may hear the plant called by its common names including:

  • The Orange Star Plant
  • Sun Star
blooms of the orange star plant (Ornithogalum dubium)blooms of the orange star plant (Ornithogalum dubium)

More on Ornithogalum plants:

This plant is a late fall or early winter bloomer and belongs to the Asparagaceae family and comes from the Cape Province area of South Africa. 

Ornithogalum Dubium is a showy plant producing large clusters of bright orange or red flowers and easy to grow in pots. 

Orange Star Plant Care

Size and Growth

The Star of Bethlehem typically only reaches about one foot tall. 

It produces a cluster of 12″ to 15″ inch stems. 

The stems contain ciliate leaf margins. 

Most bulbs produce three to eight leaves, which typically appear yellow-green or green. 

Flowering and Fragrance

A cluster of 15 to 20 blossoms appears in the spring. 

The flowers are often bright orange or red in color. 

Some varieties produce yellow flowers, while a few rare varieties produce white flowers with green or brown centers.

Light and Temperature

This plant is native to South Africa and grows best in warm regions. 

It can grow outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 11. 

In areas outside of the Southeast, the Orange Star is grown as a bulb plant or potted houseplant.

It needs full sun, helping to bring out the bright orange colors of the flowers. 

Watering and Feeding

Water the plant deeply when the top 2″ to 3″ inches of soil is dry. 

It should require watering once or twice per week during the spring and summer and less frequent watering during the fall.

During the winter, it only needs water when the plant starts to wilt.

Use slow-release fertilizer for container plants. 

Feed the plant every four to six weeks during the spring and summer. 

NOTE: Avoid using too much fertilizer. 

An abundance of fertilizer can damage the plant and keep it from getting essential nutrients.

Soil and Transplanting

  • The Orange Star requires moist soil with good drainage. 
  • If the soil becomes too dry, the flowers wilt easily, and the plant may not recover. 
  • Transplant container plants as needed, such as when it outgrows its container. 
  • Plants should also be repotted every two years to refresh the soil.

Grooming

Remove wilted flowers to encourage longer blooms. 

Trimming the foliage back is also recommended.

Pruning the Orange Star encourages the plant to produce more side-shoots and fuller blooms. 

How to Propagate Ornithogalum Dubium

Propagate Orange Star using seeds or offsets. 

When the flowers wilt toward the end of summer or fall, the seed pods start to ripen and turn brown. 

  • Watch the plant and remove the seed pods before they drop. 
  • Use a paper sack to collect the pods and allow them to dry for about one week.
  • Shake the seed pods and carefully open them to extract the seeds.
  • Fill 6″ inch pots with standard potting soil. 
  • Scatter the seeds over the surface and then dust them with a light layer of potting soil.
  • Add a thin layer of gravel on top of the potting soil to lock in moisture.
  • By spring, the seedlings should emerge. 
  • Wait until leaves develop before transplanting to large pots.

To propagate the offsets, carefully remove the offsets using a shovel or spade. 

  • This works best in the summer or fall when the foliage starts to die back.
  • Separate the clump of offsets into individual bulbs. 
  • Discard the dead or withered offsets.
  • Plant the offsets in 6″ inch pots using well-drained soil. 
  • The pot should have drainage holes in the bottom.
  • The bulbs should be placed at a depth equal to about twice the height of the bulbs. 
  • Space the bulbs at least 2″ inches apart.
  • Keep the pot in a cool area and water regularly to keep the soil moist. 
  • New growth should appear by spring.

Ornithogalum Dubium Pest or Disease Problems

While the plant is virtually pest and disease-free, it may suffer from occasional thrip infestations. 

Thrips like to feed on the leaves and closed buds and leave tiny black spots.

Use a steady stream of cold water to remove the thrips. 

Remove any infested branches.

TIP: Keeping weeds away from the plant may help reduce the risk of a thrip infestation.

Along with pests and diseases, the plant itself may pose a threat. 

Ornithogalum Dubium is known to contain poisonous compounds.

The compounds are not a danger to the skin. 

The biggest risk occurs when ingesting parts of the plant. 

The toxins may cause abnormal heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, dilated pupils, and seizures. 

It is rarely life-threatening but requires immediate attention.

Suggested Orange Star Plant Uses

The compact Orange Star is often used as a houseplant to add color to a room. 

No matter where it is grown, remember to keep it away from children and pets due to the toxicity of the plant.

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