Dodecatheon pulchellum

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Robert Pavlis

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Ddecatheon pulchellum, the shooting star, has unusually shaped flowers that stand out in the garden. It is not common in nurseries but it is easy to grow from seed.

The information in this post is for Dodecatheon pulchellum, but I can’t be certain the pictures are of that species. The seed was obtained from the ORG&HP society seed exchange, labeled as D. jeffreyi, but I think that name is incorrect. Dodecantheon species are all very similar, and even D. pulchellum is quite variable. The pictures may also be a garden hybrid. In any event, all Dodecatheons are great plants.

Dodecatheon pulchellum: photo by Robert Pavlis
Dodecatheon pulchellum: photo by Robert Pavlis

Common names for this plant include pretty shooting star, few-flowered shooting star, dark throat shooting star, western shooting star and the prairie shooting star. Its normal habitat is wet alpine and sub-alpine regions, but it can also be found in very dry desert locations. It is an easy to grow plant in a normal garden setting.

Dodecatheon pulchellum: photo by Robert Pavlis
Dodecatheon pulchellum: photo by Robert Pavlis

I have always grown it on the wet side, but maybe I’ll try a dry scree garden. If they get too dry they will go dormant in late summer. Divide as they go dormant or in early spring. It is in the Primulaceae family and the leaves are very similar to other primulas. The most common color forms are light to deep pink, but white and red forms are available.

Plant Science for Gardeners by Robert Pavlis

Dodecatheon pulchellum

(doh-dek-ATH-ee-on  pul-KEL-um)

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 45cm (18in)

Bloom Time: early summer

Natural Range: western North America

Habitat: wet alpine and sub-alpine medeows

Synonyms: Dodecatheon meadia var. puberulum

Cultivation of Dodecatheon pulchellum:

Light: sun to part shade

Soil: well drained

Water: moist

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 7

Propagation: seed, division

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

2 thoughts on “Dodecatheon pulchellum”

  1. I love this plant. I have both the pink and white ones in my garden now for quite a few years. I new it was a Dodecatheon, but I think the one I have is mellea??

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