Lily of the Field – Sternbergia

The Lily of the Field of Biblical times and what a lovely little crocus-like plant this is, with its shining lemon yellow flowers and its love of a dry, sunny position. We have the Dog’s Tooth Violet for shade, the scilla and snowdrop for partial shade, whilst the Sternbergia is of the utmost value for a dry corner in full sun, the drier and the hotter the sun the more lavishly it produces its rich yellow blooms. They do take a little time to get established and should never be lifted except when growing in a clay soil, for they will increase but slowly.


They are almost completely hardy but in an exposed garden, the bulbs should be planted 4-5 in. deep and given a light peat mulch during November. As it is necessary for the continued vigour of the bulb that they become thoroughly ripened before growth commences again the following year, it will be necessary to lift the bulbs every November where they are growing in a cold, heavy soil. They should be carefully cleaned and dried in a warm greenhouse or room and replanted the following spring.


  • Sternbergia lutea. Also known as the Yellow Star Flower. It is found naturally in Israel, growing amidst arid rocky country, and those are the conditions it best enjoys in Britain. It flowers during early autumn.
  • S. Fiscberiana. Also from the Middle East and bears its dainty golden yellow flowers throughout February. This species should be planted in September when lutea is in bloom.

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