Ornithogalum arabicum

Common Name: Star of Bethlehem 
Type: Bulb
Family: Asparagaceae
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy, Fragrant


Only reliably winter hardy in USDA Zones 8-10. In St. Louis, plants are best grown in containers that are overwintered indoors. Repot only when pots become overcrowded. Keep soils uniformly moist during growing season. May also be planted in the ground 4-6” deep each spring after threat of frost has passed and then lifted, dried and stored each fall before the first hard frost. Plants go dormant after bloom, however, and do not like heavy moisture from late summer rains. Not an aggressive spreader.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Ornithogalum arabicum, commonly called Star of Bethlethem, is native to the Mediterranean and is also often commonly called Arabian star flower. Racemes of large, white, fragrant flowers (to 2” diameter) bloom atop scapes to 18-24” tall in late spring to early summer. Each flower has star-like white petals (tepals) with yellow anthers and a central black bead-like ovary. Grass-like dark green foliage. Ornithogalum umbellatum is the Star of Bethlehem that is winter hardy to St. Louis and tends to aggressively take over gardens.

Genus name comes from the Greek words ornis meaning a bird and gala meaning milk for the white flowers.

Specific epithet means of Arabia.


No serious insect or disease problems. Bulb rot may occur in poorly drained soils.


Borders or containers.