Ornithogalum Dubium

Different types of the plant are known. The orange milk star (Ornithogalum dubium), which belongs to the asparagus family (Asparagaceae), has dark yellow to orange flowers. The plant impresses above all with its petals, which are artfully combined to form a star-like structure. Botanically belonging to the genus of the hyacinth family, however, the external appearance of the plant has nothing in common with these plants; In contrast to hyacinths, the milk star does not form umbels. Easy to care for and robust, the Milky Star is easy to care for and is also a good gift for both advanced plant enthusiasts and beginners.

Modest and robust – location and soil conditions

Since the Milky Star was originally native to very hot areas such as Africa and Asia, the plant is very well used to a lot of warmth and, above all, to the sun; the plant therefore prefers a bright and warm location. Temperatures between 15 ° C and 20 ° C are ideal, but higher temperatures are also no problem for the Milky Star. A bright, warm place on the windowsill or in a room flooded with light is therefore ideal. A greenhouse or winter garden can also be used for cultivating the plant.

During the summer months, the Milky Star can be planted in the garden without further ado; However, the Milky Star cannot overwinter outside, which is why the plant bulbs are stored in a cellar before the onset of frost, while the rest of the plant is discarded. If the plant is to be planted in the garden or green areas, decorative aspects also come into play when choosing the location; Milk stars, for example, are less effective than individual plants due to their rather pale flowers. The plant, on the other hand, comes into its own in a rock garden or within herbaceous borders. The Milky Star is also well suited in connection with trees and shrubs or as a finish to edges (for example with beds or lawns).

When planting, certain criteria must be met with regard to the choice of substrate:

  • Loose soil, which must be quite permeable, is suitable as a substrate.
  • The soil as a whole must not be too moist and should contain a high proportion of nitrogen.
  • If standard soil for hyacinths is already available, this can also be used for cultivating the Milky Star; however, it is advisable to loosen up the substrate with a little sand.

If the milk star is planted in the garden, it should be remembered that the plant can reach a size of up to 25cm; therefore a certain distance between the plants has to be taken into account, which should be at least 15cm, better 20cm. The plant can only develop optimally if a sufficient distance is maintained.

Watering, fertilizing and wintering the milk star

The milk star is quite undemanding and easy to care for and only needs to be watered moderately. In summer and during the autumn months, the plant gets by with sparing watering and is only kept very slightly moist. The substrate is soaked through without being completely soaked. This also applies to the flowering period between July and September. If kept in the garden, watering the plant is usually unnecessary. If you keep the plant in a planter or in a flower pot in the house, you must make sure that no water remains in the lower bowl. Standing water can quickly lead to root rot and thus to the death of the plant. Before the next watering, the substrate may dry out, but not dry out completely.

Tip: The onions that are overwintered do not need any water supply.

Regular fertilization 

  • The milk star should be fertilized every 14 days.
  • A nitrogen-stressed fertilizer is suitable, but it has to be heavily diluted; a concentration of 0.1% is ideal.
  • In the case of plants that are grown in the garden, the type and frequency of fertilization also depends on the nature of the soil.

When keeping the Milky Star, it must also be taken into account that the plant is not winter hardy. If the temperatures drop, you should therefore prepare for wintering in the house. Before the frost, the plant must be in the house. For this purpose, the bulbs of the plant are dug out of the earth and moved to a cool, dark place. Basement rooms are particularly suitable for this. The bulbs do not need to be watered during the winter. They are then replanted in the ground in spring. Another option is not to let the bulbs rest, but rather to grow them as a houseplant in a flower pot during the winter months. Then the plant sprouts a second time in winter – and shows its artfully arranged star-shaped flowers just in time for Christmas time.

Care of ornithogalum dubium

Care of the Milky Star

The Milky Star is quite robust and undemanding and requires little maintenance; All that is required for the plant to thrive is moderate watering and regular fertilization. However, some plants become “blooming lazy” over the years; the reason for this may be that the distance to other plants has become too small. Then the milk star should be dug up and moved to a location where the plant can develop well. Sometimes additional bulbs develop that do not flower. This development is usually not desired:

  • A lot of foliage then falls in autumn, although there are only a few flowers.
  • To avoid this effect, the stocks should be checked every few years.
  • For this purpose, the plants are dug up and only large bulbs that are capable of flowering are left for further maintenance.
  • The best time to sort out the milk star is late summer.

Propagation and rearing of the milk star

The multiplication of the Milky Star works either with the help of seeds or with plant bulbs. If you already have your own specimens, the flower bulbs can be dug out of the ground before winter and stored in a cellar. The roots are then put back in the following spring. A sunny day in May is particularly suitable for this. The cultivation is possible both in the garden and in a planter or flower pot in the house. The onion thrives in loose, nutrient-rich soil and is only poured a little at the beginning. In order for the plant to thrive optimally, the plant should also be covered with a little peat. Only when the growth phase begins can the milk star be watered more vigorously; now the plant needs a lot of moisture to thrive optimally.

Propagation and cultivation with seeds works in the same way; however, most gardeners use their own or purchased onions from specialist stores.

Diseases ornithogalum dubium


Basically, milk stars belong to the very robust plants that are rarely attacked by pests; diseases also only occur occasionally. However, aphid infestations can occasionally occur, especially during the summer months. The sharp jet with the water hose is particularly effective in ridding the plant of the pests. In many cases, however, treatment with water is insufficient; then pesticides or soap solutions can be used. Aphids can also be fought particularly gently and naturally with special predators; Ladybugs are particularly suitable.
If the plant does not thrive properly and, for example, only develops a few flowers or shows stunted growth, the condition of the soil should first be checked:

  • Is the soil sufficiently permeable and loose? Sand may have to be mixed in.
  • Are there enough nutrients in the substrate and is regular fertilization being considered?
  • The soil can also be too damp. Then: pour less!

Toxicity of ornithogalum dubium

Toxicity of the Milky Stars

Anyone who pulls milk stars should know that the plants have a high poisonous potential. The ingredients of the plant are responsible for this, for example rhodexin A. This substance belongs to the glycosides of the cardenolide type and can cause symptoms of poisoning. Therefore, care should be taken when handling the plant. If cats or dogs live in the household, care should be taken to ensure that the animals cannot reach the plant.
Note: In the event of accidental consumption of the plant parts, a veterinarian must be consulted immediately.

Milky star – historical
facts Milky stars are already mentioned in the Bible. The plant appears in a story about a famine during a siege. At that time, Milky Stars were being sold in Samaria – and fetched quite a high price. In the Bible it says: “In the enclosed city a great famine arose, so that the head of a donkey cost eighty silver shekels and a quarter of a milk star cost five silver shekels.” about the orange star of the milk, which is not edible but poisonous. However, when the narrative occurred, several types of the milk star existed in Israel that were quite edible.

Use of the Milky Star

Use of ornithogalum dubium

In contrast to the Doldigen Milky Star, which is used in alternative healing methods such as Bach flower therapy and homeopathy, the plant from the Ornithogalum dubium family has little medical significance. However, the plant can be used externally; the ingredients are often used in tinctures that are intended to strengthen the hair.

In addition, the Milky Star has become particularly important as a popular gift. The plant has a very decorative effect due to its star-shaped flowers. The milk star is mostly used as a potted plant, sometimes also as an ornamental plant for summer borders. But the plant can also be used to close the edges of beds or lawns. Skilfully combined with trees, the Milky Star is a real eye-catcher.

The Milky Star is a very robust plant that can be planted both in the garden and in the house and is often used as a gift due to its typically star-shaped flowers. Regularly fertilized and occasionally watered, the undemanding plant hardly needs any further care. The best way to grow them is with the onions, which can also be separated from plants from the previous year and put back in in the spring after they have been overwintered. Care should be taken when keeping the Milky Star: The plant is poisonous, which is why pets should be protected from consuming the plant. Due to its simple posture, the milk star is suitable for passionate hobby gardeners as well as beginners.

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