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blooming plant of the month                                                       (printable PDF)
ornithogalum


BOTANICAL NAMES
Ornithogalum thyrsoides
   (or-ni-THOG-uh-lum thur-SOY-deez)

Ornithogalum dubium

  (DOO-bee-um)

COMMON NAMES
O. thyrsoides
   Chincherinchee (chin-chur-RIN-chee),
   Wonder flower

O. dubium

   Yellow, Orange chincherinchee;
   Yellow, Orange star flower; Sun star;
   Snake plant/Snake flower

These plants/flowers are often referred to as star-of-Bethlehem, which is the common name of the overall genus and several species—however, not these two species. Therefore, to be accurate, refer to these plants by the common names given here.

DESCRIPTION

O. thyrsoides has spikes of dense cone-shaped clusters of starlike white flowers at stem ends. The bloom spikes, which can grow up to 4 inches in length, typically comprise 12 to 30 blooms, each of which has six “petals” and typically measures 3⁄4 to 1 inch in diameter when open. Stems (scapes) are smooth, leafless and usually 10 to 18 inches in length.

O. dubium looks similar to O. thyrsoides but has yellow, yellow-orange or orange flowers. Bloom spikes typically bear 15 to 20 flowers, and stems generally range in length from 6 to 15 inches.
    
Leaves of both species, which grow from the bases of the plants, are narrow and linear to lanceolate (strap shaped).

DECORATIVE LIFE

Depending on care, environment and maturity at the time of purchase, these plants bloom for one to three months.

AVAILABILITY

Accessibility varies by grower and among species, but you can usually find O. thyrsoides from about November through June and O. dubium from September through November and from March through May.


in-store and consumer care

LIGHT

These plants require bright indirect sunlight, with protection from direct sunlight. Being phototropic, they grow toward the light, so rotate pots frequently to prevent stem bending.

WATER

Potted Ornithogalums need evenly moist soil. Water them thoroughly when the soil surface is dry to the touch, and allow water to drain. Be careful to not overwater these plants.

TEMPERATURE

Cool indoor temperatures are preferred—between 60 F and 70 F during the daytime and from 55 F to 65 F at night, if possible.

ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY

Low; these plants are fairly resistant to ethylene gas.

FERTILIZER

Plant food is not usually needed during these plants’ blooming cycle; however, after plants have finished blooming, fertilize them with a liquid plant food at half dosage every other month.

GROOMING

Cut off each flower stem at the base after it has finished producing blooms, and remove leaves as they turn yellow or die.

PESTS/DISEASES
These plants are fairly resistant to both pests and diseases.


 

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(printable PDF)
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fun facts


FAMILY MATTERS
Ornithogalums
are classified in the Hyacinthaceae (hyacinth) family. In addition to hyacinths, close relatives include grape hyacinths (Muscari), pineapple lilies (Eucomis) and squill (Scilla).

WHAT’S IN A NAME

“Ornithogalum” comes from the Greek words ornis (a bird) and gala (milk), possibly alluding to the egglike color of the flowers of some species.
    
The specific epithet (species name) “thyrsoides” means thyrselike, referring to a compact multiflowered inflorescence. “Dubium” means doubtful, as in not conforming to a pattern, possibly in reference to these blooms not being white or cream colored, which most other Ornithogalum blooms are.
    
Speculation is that the common name “chincherinchee” was given because its pronunciation resembles the sounds these flowers’ stems make when rubbing together in the wind on the plains of their native South Africa. The other common name, wonder flower, is a reference to these flowers’ long-lasting quality.

HOME SWEET HOME
O. thyrsoides and O. dubium are native to South Africa. 

purchasing advice

• Choose plants that display plenty of buds as well as some open blooms.

• Make sure plants are not water stressed; soil should be moist, and leaves and stems should be firm and green.


toxicity alert

• Ingestion of any parts of these plants can cause indigestion; nausea; shortness of breath; and/or burning and swelling of the lips, tongue and throat. Usually the symptoms are minor and last only a few minutes, but caution customers with children and pets.

• If stems are cut from the plants, the sap at the stem ends can cause a mild irritation or dermatitis in some people, especially if there is prolonged contact with the skin.






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