Drooping star of Bethlehem Ornithogalum nutans

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
drooping star of Bethlehem
drooping star of Bethlehem
drooping star of Bethlehem
drooping star of Bethlehem
drooping star of Bethlehem
drooping star of Bethlehem


Ornithogalum nutans, commonly known as "Drooping Star of Bethlehem," is a perennial plant known for its charming and graceful appearance. It typically possesses a rosette of long, narrow, and lance-shaped leaves that spread out from the base. The leaves are often a cool green color, providing a calming backdrop for the flowers that emerge later on. The most striking feature of the Drooping Star of Bethlehem is its blooming structure. Flower stalks rise from the center of the plant's foliage, each adorned with a fascinating arrangement of flowers. These flowers have an intriguing shape, slightly drooping which gives the plant its common name. Each blossom sports a starry shape, and they are generally white or silver with a distinct green stripe running along the length of each petal, creating a delicate and ornate contrast. The flowers cluster atop the stem in a conical or pyramidal fashion and open sequentially from the bottom up. When fully open, the blooms can display an eye-catching array which captures the attention of onlookers and pollinators alike. Even when not in flower, the foliage of the Drooping Star of Bethlehem adds a touch of elegance to the overall plant display, making it admired for its foliage as well as its blooms.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Drooping Star-of-Bethlehem, Silver Bells, Nodding Onion, Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem, Sleepy Star-of-Bethlehem

    • Common names

      Ornithogalum nutans var. nutans, Ornithogalum nutans var. oligophyllum, Ornithogalum nutans var. oligophyllum, Ornithogalum nutans subsp. nutans, Ornithogalum montanum, Ornithogalum patens, Hyacinthus nutans, Stellaris nutans.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Drooping Star-of-Bethlehem is not considered highly toxic to humans, but it does contain compounds that can be harmful if ingested in large quantities. The plant parts, particularly the bulbs, contain cardiac glycosides which are toxic substances that can potentially interfere with the heart's rhythm and function. If someone ingests a large part of the plant, symptoms of poisoning might include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, cardiac issues such as arrhythmias or palpitations.

    • To pets

      Drooping Star-of-Bethlehem is toxic to pets, including both cats and dogs. The plant, especially the bulbs, contains cardiac glycosides. These substances can be harmful to pets if ingested and may lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, can cause serious heart-related issues such as abnormal heart rhythms. If you suspect your pet has ingested any part of the Drooping Star-of-Bethlehem, immediate veterinary attention is advised.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      1-2 feet (30-60 cm)

    • Spread

      6 inches (15 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Low Maintenance: Ornithogalum nutans, also known as drooping star-of-Bethlehem, requires minimal care once established, making it an easy plant for gardeners of all levels.
    • Drought Tolerance: It is quite tolerant to periods of drought, which can be particularly beneficial in areas with water restrictions or low rainfall.
    • Attracts Pollinators: The plant's flowers can attract bees and other pollinators, which are essential for the pollination of plants and the health of the local ecosystem.
    • Ornamental Value: With its attractive, nodding white flowers with green stripes, drooping star-of-Bethlehem is often used in gardens for aesthetic purposes as it adds visual appeal during its blooming season.
    • Naturalizing: Ornithogalum nutans has the ability to spread and naturalize in an area, creating swathes of ground cover that can help prevent soil erosion.
    • Deer Resistance: The plant is generally resistant to deer, which can be particularly valuable in gardens that are prone to deer visits and grazing.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Floral Arrangements: Ornithogalum nutans, commonly known as drooping star-of-Bethlehem, is often used in floral arrangements and bouquets for its attractive flower spikes and long-lasting blooms.
    • Garden Borders: Due to its attractive foliage and flowers, drooping star-of-Bethlehem can be planted along garden borders to add visual interest and texture to the landscape.
    • Photography: The striking appearance of the drooping star-of-Bethlehem, particularly when in full bloom, makes it a favorite subject for garden photographers and nature enthusiasts.
    • Education: Botany and horticulture students may study drooping star-of-Bethlehem to learn about bulbous plant species and their life cycles.
    • Cultural Symbolism: In some cultures, drooping star-of-Bethlehem is associated with purity and innocence, making it a meaningful addition to ceremonies and traditions.
    • Under-Tree Planting: The shade tolerance of drooping star-of-Bethlehem allows it to be used for under-tree planting in gardens with established canopies.
    • Rock Gardens: Its adaptable nature makes drooping star-of-Bethlehem suitable for rock gardens, where it can complement alpine plants and other low-growing species.
    • Seasonal Festivities: Around the holidays, drooping star-of-Bethlehem is sometimes used as part of festive decor due to its star-shaped flowers and association with the Christmas season.
    • Wildlife Gardening: Although not a primary food source, drooping star-of-Bethlehem can contribute to the biodiversity of a garden by providing habitat and occasional forage for pollinators.
    • Eco-Friendly Lawns: In eco-friendly lawn settings, drooping star-of-Bethlehem can be used as part of a diverse mix of low-growing plants to create a flowering lawn that requires less maintenance.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Star of Bethlehem is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Star of Bethlehem is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Purity: Ornithogalum nutans, commonly known as drooping star of Bethlehem, often symbolizes purity due to its pristine white flowers that emerge amidst the lush greenery, reminiscent of a pure heart or intention.
    • Hope: The star-like shape of its blossoms are seen as a symbol of hope, guiding and uplifting spirits, much like the star of Bethlehem is said to have guided the Three Wise Men.
    • Innocence: Its delicate and unblemished appearance can represent innocence, an embodiment of untouched and untainted character or beginnings.
    • New Beginnings: This plant is often a herald of spring, which is associated with rebirth and new beginnings, symbolizing fresh starts and the dawn of new endeavors.

Every two weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every year
Early spring
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    The drooping star of Bethlehem should be watered moderately during its growing season, ensuring the soil is kept moist but not waterlogged. During dormancy, after the foliage dies back, water sparingly, providing just enough to keep the bulb from drying out completely. This typically translates to about 1 gallon of water per square foot every week during active growth and significantly less during dormancy; monitor the soil to judge. Overwatering can cause bulb rot, so it's crucial to allow the soil to dry somewhat between waterings.

  • sunLight

    The drooping star of Bethlehem prefers bright, indirect light for optimal growth. It can tolerate some direct sunlight, but too much can scorch the leaves, so a spot that receives filtered sunlight or a few hours of direct morning sun followed by shade in the afternoon would be ideal. Avoid placing it in deep shade as this can lead to weak growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The ideal temperature range for the drooping star of Bethlehem is between 50°F and 70°F. It can tolerate minimum temperatures down to around 20°F, but freezing temperatures for prolonged periods can be damaging. During the growing season, aim to keep it within the ideal range for best growth and flowering.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning the drooping star of Bethlehem is mainly about removing spent flower stalks and yellowing leaves to maintain aesthetics and prevent disease. The best time to prune is after flowering when the stalks have dried up. This is done by cutting the stalks at the base. Regular pruning isn't necessary unless you're tidying up the plant.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Drooping star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans) thrives in rich, well-draining soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. A mix composed of garden soil, compost, and sand in equal parts creates an ideal environment that mimics their native habitat. Regular organic matter amendments enhance soil fertility and structure, supporting robust growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Drooping star-of-Bethlehem should generally be repotted every 2 to 3 years. This timeframe allows for replenishment of the soil nutrients and for dividing if the bulbs have increased in number, ensuring the plant continues to thrive without becoming overcrowded.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Drooping star-of-Bethlehem prefers moderate humidity levels, consistent with typical indoor environments. They are not particularly demanding about humidity, allowing them to adapt to a range of conditions found in most homes without requiring special adjustments.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright, indirect light indoors.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in well-drained soil in partial shade.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Drooping Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans) begins its life as a bulb, which lies dormant underground during the winter. In early spring, it germinates, sending up strap-like leaves and a flower stalk bearing white, green-striped blossoms. After flowering, typically in late spring to early summer, the plant sets seed and then the above-ground foliage dies back, with the plant entering a period of dormancy through the summer months. The seeds may germinate to produce new plants, or the bulb can produce offsets that will grow into genetically identical clones. During the dormant period, the bulbs store energy for the next growing season. In the subsequent spring, the cycle begins anew with the emergence of foliage and flowers from the bulbs.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Early spring

    • The most popular method of propagation for the plant commonly known as drooping star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans) is through division of its bulb clusters. This typically takes place in the fall after the leaves have died back. Gardeners can carefully dig up the bulbs, which are usually found a few inches beneath the surface of the soil, and gently separate the clump into individual bulbs. It's important to make sure that each bulb retains a portion of the basal plate, which is the bottom part where roots grow. After separating, the bulbs can be immediately replanted about 3 inches (approximately 7.6 centimeters) deep and 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters) apart in well-drained soil with a sunny to partially shaded orientation. This division helps to not only propagate the plant but also to invigorate older clumps that may have started to decline in vigor and bloom.