The sun star plant, also known as the orange star plant or the Ornithogalum Dubium, is an orange flowering bulb originating from South Africa. They are fairly small, usually not growing over a foot tall, but they will produce beautiful-looking orange flowers that sprout between one and three months.
The Ornithogalum Dubium plants will reduce back to bulbs after every blooming season and grow into bright flowers again in the spring. Growing the sun star plant is pretty straightforward, and the plants look great, so these are a fantastic choice for busier owners.
Growing Sun Star Plant
Some owners choose to plant these bulbs outside, which is fine for the warmer months, but it’s recommended that you take them out in the fall and re-pot them inside over the winter months. They grow quite quickly and do not need a huge amount of attention.
At the end of the growing season, the individual flowers on the stems will begin to drop off or fade. This is called a dormancy period and is normal, do not panic. It simply means that your flower is preparing for the winter months – it will sprout again in the warmth.
Once all the flowers have fallen, remove the whole spike from the plant’s body. Although this seems like a drastic thing to do, it’s the normal procedure, and your plant will bounce back. Avoid cutting back the foliage, continue watering it regularly and let it fluctuate.
The most important thing about the sun star plant is watering. The guide in watering this plant is not too fussy about food or sunlight, but you need to keep an eye on the soil’s moisture level to ensure it’s not waterlogged and drowning your plant. Your sun star bulbs will thrive in moist, well-draining soil, but you must remember to water them regularly and monitor the water levels.
The sun star plant loves light, fitting well with its name, but will grow best in bright rooms with indirect light. Consider keeping them away from windowsills, as the direct sunlight can cause the bright-colored petals to fade. If kept in darker areas, your plant will likely struggle to flower, which can significantly deteriorate your plant’s health.
Fertilizers can be used on the sun star plant. Use ‘houseplant’ feed once every three weeks during the growing season and cut this back in the winter. This is recommended if you can find a houseplant fertilizer high in potassium. Some owners have reported the success of tomato feed on these plants, which is common and easy to get hold of. A good guide in fertilizing can give you more ideas on how much fertilizers you need to put on your plants.
Standard BabyBio or Miracle-Gro fertilizers will help the plant grow but may concentrate more on foliage growth, not the bloom of your flowers.
The humidity in an average room should accommodate the sun star plant. Be sure not to make its environment too humid, as this can cause mildew. Mistreating your sun star plant is not recommended as it can cause petal blight, a fungus that attacks the petals of these lovely flowers.
Pot-bound roots are likely to provoke a healthy bloom. So, you’ll want to keep the plant in its original pot for the first two to three years. After the plant’s second dormancy period, you may want to repot your sun star plant. However, only change the pot size if the roots begin to outgrow the pot. In this case, repot the plant in the next size pot with a potting mix used for succulents and cactuses, accommodating plenty of drainages.
Be aware that this plant is poisonous to both pets and humans. Common side effects are rashes on the skin if handled without proper gloves or vomiting and nausea if ingested.
Potential Problems of Sun Star Plant
There are potential problems in growing Sun Star Plant.
As with many houseplants, root rot is common. This typically means that you’re overwatering your plant or your plant is kept in a dark area. You may notice mold appear on the surface of the soil. This stunted growth and rotting smells indicate that your plant has root rot and should be dried out immediately.
Basal rot, called bulb rot or basal collapse, is common in sun star plants. This is caused by the accumulation of bacteria and fungi, which will likely cause stunted growth and failure to bloom. Shoots with no growth and leaves are likely to turn red or purple, which likely means they’ll droop and die. If your plant experiences basal collapse, it will likely die. If it’s only in the early stages, however, removing the rotten areas, repotting it in healthy soil, and placing it in an area with access to brighter light may help.
Leaf spots can also be an issue with the sun star plant, so keep your eyes peeled for brown/red spots on the leaves. Prune the affected leaves and add a fungicide to the less affected leaves to solve this problem.
Underwatering your sun star plant will lead to dry, curling leaves with brown, tinged edges. If you notice this alongside a faded leaf color, the plant is likely exposed to too much direct sunlight. These two factors will deteriorate the health of the plant – the leaves in particular.
Bugs and Pests
Mealybugs, fungus gnats, slugs, and snails can all be attracted to the sun star plant. So, keep an eye out for these pests. Slugs and snails will likely arrive if your plant is in a greenhouse or an outdoor area. Thus, smaller insects can appear indoors too.
The ‘potential problems’ section may be long enough to put you off this plant. However, it should be noted that these are potential issues and are simply there as a precaution. This plant is exposed to no more pests or diseases than other houseplants, so don’t let it put you off.
On the contrary, this plant is an excellent addition to any space. It is not a demanding plant and can thrive in most areas, adding color and vibrancy to any space.
Elyssa Goins is an experienced house plant hobbyist who maintains over a hundred plants. She is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mother of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has a published study in the National Social Science Association, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.