Native to the edges of cedar woods in south-west turkey, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the Amaryllis family, Amaryllidaceae, that also includes agapanthus, daffodils and onion. The plant grows up to 8″ tall from a bulb and has 4 strap-like lanceolate leaves that are grayish-green, often twisted longitudinally, and appear before the flowers. From late winter to early spring, widely funnel-shaped flowers appear singly on scapes 5-18″ long. Each flower is 1.6 to 2″ long and has 6 white petals and a freesia-like scent. The plants are rare and considered difficult to bring into bloom but would be very attractive in rock, winter, or fragrance gardens. The genus name, Sternbergia, honors  Count Kaspar von Sternberg (1761-1838) an Austrian botanist. The specific epithet, candida, is the Latin word meaning white, and refers to the color of the flower, unique among the genus Sternbergia.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Widely funnel shaped flowers with 6 white petals in late winter to early spring

Size: 3-8″ H

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Fertile, medium moist, well-drained; dry in winter

Hardiness: Zones 8-10

Care: Tricky to grow

Pests and Diseases: Generally healthy but susceptible to damage by snails, slugs, narcissus eel worm, narcissus bulb fly and narcissus yellow stripe virus

Propagation: Division of bulblets

Companion Plants: Black hellebore, winter aconite, snowdrop

Photo Credit: Epibase Wikimedia Commons

By Karen