Masterwort Plant Profile

How to plant and care for masterwort

Astrantia Masterwort

 Jacky Parker / Getty Images

In the late spring and early summer, you may spot a plant with flowers that almost look like pincushions. These flowers have also been compared to stars and even fireworks due to its tightly-packed florets that are backed with petal-like bracts.

The masterwort plant not only has unique flowers, but it also happens to be one of only a few cut flowers that thrives in the shade. That's why this gorgeous plant is perfect for anyone whose landscape doesn't get a whole lot of sun, but would still like a pop of color in their garden.

Botanical Name Astrantia
Common Name Masterwort
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size 1-3 feet high, 1-2 feet wide
Sun Exposure Part sun 
Soil Type Moist, well-drained, acidic, rich in organic matter
Soil pH 5-6
Bloom Time Spring and Summer
Flower Color Green, purple, red, white, pink
Hardiness Zones 4-7
Native Area Mountainous areas of Central and Southern Europe
Masterwort and Salvia Tanzerin
 Clive Nichols/Getty Images

How to Grow Masterwort Plants

Masterwort makes a fine addition to either the middle or back of both shaded garden beds and borders. Due to its habit of growing completely upright, it can easily be paired with shade-garden plants like mounding perennials, such as hostas.

Since it's a woodland perennial, masterwort will grow best in partially shaded locations. The masterwort also enjoys having access to a regular supply of moisture, which means it can be grown near water gardens or streams, or any other areas in your landscape that tend to stay wet--even near a leaky water spigot.

Light

The masterwort is a perennial that prefers a little bit of shade, so be sure that it will receive either filtered shade all day or just the morning sun with shade during the hottest part of the afternoon. If you happen to live in a climate with cooler summers (not surpassing 75 degrees), masterwort will tolerate being grown in sunnier spots.

Soil

The masterwort will thrive in a soil that's moist and well-drained, as well as rich in organic matter. If your ground happens to have sticky clay or sand that may cause soil to dry up more quickly, consider adding a liberal amount of organic matter before planting. You can also add an inch or two of compost every fall.

Water

Masterwort must be watered regularly, particularly when temperatures are hot and dry. It can actually thrive in the kind of consistently wet soil that may cause other perennials to suffer from root rot. This perennial won't be able to tolerate periods of drought, so you may see fewer blooms and crispy brown foliage if it doesn't receive ample moisture during the summer months.

Temperature and Humidity

If you live in a hotter climate, consider spreading a two- or three-inch layer of mulch over the soil to help keep it damp longer. Less moisture will be lost to evaporation, which means it will remain available for your masterwort plant.

Fertilizer

For the best growth, masterwort should be fertilized once or twice a year. Mulching should also be done to help keep the soil temperature cooler for your masterwort's roots--and it can also help suppress weeds. As an added bonus, organic mulches such as compost, pine needles, or shredded wood will decompose over time and improve the quality of your soil.

Potting and Repotting

When potting masterwort, use professional potting soil and ensure that the crown is either at or just above the surface of the soil. Once its potted, water your plant immediately and consider applying a broad-spectrum fungicide to avoid crown and root rot.

Propagating Masterwort

These plants are propagated either through division or growing from seed. When dividing the plant, dig up a mature section in either the early spring or fall and thrust a spade through the masterwort plant clump. You can then replant the two halves wherever you would like them to grow.
Some Varieties of Masterwort

  • Abbey Road: Light red to dark pink flowers, purple-red stems
  • Buckland: Light pink flowers, three feet tall
  • Ruby Wedding: Red flowers, two-foot stems

Pruning

These plants won't require a great deal of pruning, but you can extend your masterwort's bloom season by removing old, faded flowers. Known as deadheading, this process can help your plants continue to bloom even into July. You can cut masterwort back to a couple of inches tall in either the late fall or early winter (you'll know it's time once the frost has killed the foliage) as well as trim the stems back to a few inches tall in early spring as the plant's new growth resumes.

Growing in Containers

Though its typically a perennial, you can enjoy masterwort as an annual if you grow the plant in large containers. That way, you'll be able to enjoy its unique, intricate flowers up close (just be sure it's potted on a shaded area of the deck or patio).