Star Flower Plant Care: How To Grow Trientalis Borealis

Trientalis borealis Raf. (try-en-TAY-lis bor-ee-AL-is) is a wildflower native to the woods and forests of eastern North America and the southern half of Canada, where it is found in birch and tamarack bogs, rises in sandy swamps, and the sandy soil at the edges of woodlands and trails.

It prospers in pristine areas, undisturbed by human activity, such as the southern Appalachian mountains.

Blooming Starflower - Trientalis borealisPin
Starflower Blooms – Trientalis borealis | argument- DepositPhots

Moreover, Starflower is commonly distributed in higher elevations of the southern Appalachian Mountains. 

This perennial herb is a Primulaceae (primrose) family member and is commonly called Starflower because of its pretty, singular star-shaped blooms.

Other common names include:

  • Northern Starflower
  • American Starflower
  • Mayflower
  • Star-chickweed
  • Chickweed Wintergreen
  • Star-of-Bethlehem

Its genus name, Trientalis, is Latin and means 1/3rd of a foot. It is a reference to the height of the plant.

The specific epithet, borealis, refers to the plants’ northern origins. The plant is also known as Lysimachia borealis.

In this article, we’ll share simple yet effective care and planting instructions for your Starflower.

Star Flower Plant Care

Size and Growth

This delicate perennial wildflower grows to be between 2″ and 8″ inches tall.

A whorl of between five and nine leaves may be found at the apex of an erect stem.

There are sometimes a few small, pale green leaves on the plant’s stems, but for the most part, darker green leaves grow in a whorl at the plant’s apex.

These elliptical leaves may be lance-like or oblong. They are rather thick and have relatively smooth margins.

The plant will go dormant in the middle of the summer, and the leaves will yellow and fall.

This leaves behind the erect stalk topped by ripening seed capsules.


Starflowers usually appear singly, but two or three white blooms are occasionally found on slender, pale green, yellowish, or red stalks on the same plant.

Like the leaves, the petals of the flowers may number between five and nine.

Flowers may be between a quarter-inch and a half-inch in diameter and are seen mid to late spring into early summer (mid-June).

The flowers don’t produce nectar, but beneficial insects, such as Andrenid and Halictid bees, as well as Syrphid flies, pollinate the flowers and collect and feed on the pollen.

When the small, star-shaped white flowers go to seed, chipmunks feast on the seeds and gather them to hoard for winter.

The seeds are borne in capsules, each with five cells.

Seed pods not eaten by wildlife eventually burst to scatter seeds, which will take root and grow in the following season.

Light and Temperature

This woodland wildflower likes to be kept in a setting providing dappled sunlight or light shade for six to eight hours daily.

Starflower is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3-7. Although the plant can tolerate temperatures above 100° degrees Fahrenheit (38° C), it prefers a setting with cool summers.

Watering and Feeding

Water, in a way, mimics conditions in a woodland setting.

The soil should be consistently moist but never soggy.

Water deeply, occasionally, and do so early in the morning or evening so the water can soak in well rather than evaporate.

A top dressing of organic compost or mulch should keep the plant nicely fed.

Soil and Transplanting

Starflowers like well-draining, acidic soil kept slightly moist as in a woodland setting.

Mix in sand or peat to ensure good drainage.

Grooming and Maintenance

These North American native plants are carefree once they have become well-established.

If you do not want the plant to self-seed, deadhead the flowers before they become seed pods.

How To Propagate Trientalis Borealis

Starflower will self-seed, and it also spreads underground via rhizomes.

If you will grow the plant from seed, sow it directly into prepared soil in late summer after the first frost and cover lightly with mulch.

The seeds need cold stratification to germinate.

Be sure to get your Trientalis rhizomes and seeds from a private collector rather than gathering them on public lands.

You can also purchase bulbs for planting.

Trientalis Borealis Pest or Diseases

This native plant is resistant to pest and disease problems.

Poorly draining soil or excessive watering can cause root rot.

Is The Plant Considered Toxic Or Poisonous To People, Kids, Pets?

Trientalis Borealis is not listed as toxic.

Is The Plant Considered Invasive?

This plant is listed by the U.S. federal government and the states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Georgia as threatened or endangered.

Suggested Star Flower Plant Uses

This endangered wildflower is a wonderful choice to naturalize in a woodland native plant garden.

It also attracts beneficial insects and pollinators like butterflies, bees, and bees.

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