Great masterwort – planting, care and tips

Great masterwort (Astrantia major)
Great masterwort (Astrantia major)

Easy to care for and attractive: Masterworts are becoming increasingly popular as accompanying perennials in partially shaded beds. Here is how to plant and care for the great masterwort.

Profile of great masterwort:

Scientific name: Astrantia major

Plant family: umbelliferae family (Apiaceae)

Other names: –

Sowing time: Autumn

Planting time: April to May

Flowering period: June to August

Location: sunny (but no midday sun) to partial shade

Soil quality: sandy to loamy, nutrient rich, humus rich, calcipholous

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, flower bouquets, group planting, planters, rose companion, pond planting, cottage garden, flower garden, natural garden, park area, rose garden, forest garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-20 °C / -5 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of great masterwort

Plant order, origin and occurrence of great masterwort

The great masterwort(Astrantia major) is a forest and meadow perennial native to Central and Eastern Europe, which occurs particularly in mountains up to 2,000 meters (6,500 ft) in height and on ponds and rivers. Its botanical name is composed of the Greek words for star (= aster) and flower (= anthos). The great masterwort belongs to the genus of the masterwort (Astrantia) within the umbelliferae family (Apiaceae).

Characteristics of great masterwort


The great masterwort is a persistent, herbaceous plant. From the middle of the large lobed leaves sprouts a mostly bare, approximately 60 centimeter (24 in) high stem, the branched end of which bears one of the distinctive flowers. The great masterwort is between 50 and 70 centimeters ( 20 and 28 in) tall. It takes the middle between the lesser masterwort (Astrantia minor) with only about 40 centimeters (16 in) and the largest masterwort (Astrantia maxima) with a height of one meter (40 in).


The leaves of the great masterwort are palm-shaped with five to seven leaf parts and deeply lobed, with the basal leaves being up to 20 centimeters (8 in) larger than the stem leaves. The leaf margins are serrated. The leaves grow dome-shaped with drooping leaf tips. Depending on the variety, there are pure green and variegated leaf varieties.


The umbel-shaped flowers are located right inside the calyx. They are surrounded by bracts that look like a star in shades of white, green, red and pink and look more like a composite flower than an umbellifer. Against the light, the flowers of the great masterwort are reminiscent of small pin cushions. When evening falls, the stems bend in a nodding appearance to protect the flowers from moisture. The great masterwort blooms between June and August and is often visited by numerous insects.

Flower of great masterwort
Flower of great masterwort

Great masterwort – cultivation and care


The great masterwort likes moist, chalky clay soil and is ideal for planting in shady, natural garden areas. But the plant also thrives in sun and partial shade.


The soil should be rich in nutrients and rich in humus and, if possible, never dry out completely.

Planting great masterwort

The medium-sized perennial is planted in small groups in the bed between April and May. A plant distance of 30 to 50 centimeters (12 to 20 in) is recommended, depending on how dense the foliage should be. Adding compost gives the great masterwort a good start. A protective mulch layer prevents the soil from drying out and reduces the need for water.


Since the great masterwort likes to be moist, it should be watered abundantly on hot days.


Fertilization is not necessary.


The great masterwort does not require a topiary. However, the plant can bloom a second time, if the old inflorescences are cut in good time. In autumn, the foliage can be cut back close to the ground. If you want to prevent self-sowing, you should remove the dead stems promptly.


The great masterwort can be easily propagated by sowing or division.

As soon as the seeds ripen in autumn and easily detach from the seed pods, they are collected on a day that is as dry as possible. It is best to use the flowers of the first bloom. Then simply sow the seeds in a prepared free space directly in the garden or in a targeted manner in seed trays. The seeds need a cooling period to germinate. Therefore, the seed trays are left outside over the winter.

Attention: The seedlings of the great masterwortsvarieties are not true to variety. The resulting young plants vary in color and growth, which can be very attractive in a natural garden. If you want to propagate a certain variety in a targeted manner, you have to divide the perennial in spring.

Diseases and pests

The young plants in particular are often eaten by snails. Spreading slug pellets in good time prevents excessive damage. Occasionally, leaves show the passageways of leaf miner moths. Otherwise, the easy-care perennials are very robust.


Great masterworts are hardy and do not require any special frost protection. The sensitive parts of the plant withdraw over the winter. The plants appreciate a bit of leaves or brushwood in the cold season.

Use in the garden

The great masterwort is suitable for many uses in the garden due to its natural effect and restrained grace. They are ideal as companion plants, because their pastel flower colors shine through without being intrusive. Colored great masterworts look particularly good in beds. For shady areas, on the other hand, you should prefer lighter varieties, because they bloom abundantly even in less sunlight. The knee-high perennials combined with catnip, dyer’s chamomile, lupins, cranesbills, lady’s mantle and roses create very romantic images. They are also well suited for underplanting deciduous trees. At ponds or streams, the flowers create a romantic flair. As a cut flower, the versatile plant adorn bouquets and table decorations.


  • The ‘Sunningdale Variegated’ variety is characterized by brightly rimmed leaves. The variegation is particularly pronounced in spring. In the course of the summer, the decoratively indented leaves turn green. In bloom, it is up to 70 centimeters (28 in) high
  • ‘White Giant’ impresses with white flowers from June to September. It becomes about 80 centimeters (32 in) high
  • ‘Moulin Rouge’ is blooming in dark red, only measures 45 centimeters (18 in) when fully grown
  • The flowers of ‘Shaggy’ shimmer in white and green
  • The ‘Roma’ variety is initially pink and then fades with a silvery sheen.
  • A specialty is the huge ‘Venice’ great masterwort with its purple calyxes up to five centimeters in size

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