Skip to main content

Star of Persia

Allium cristophii

Also known as

Star-of-Persia, Downy Onion

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size








2 years to reach maturity


  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

Star of Persia Overview

Allium cristophii is a summer-flowering perennial bulb that produces striking round shaped clusters of star-shaped violet flowers at the top of 50cm tall stems and has earned a Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Award of Garden Merit. Commonly known as the Star of Persia, this stunning bulb will produce fragrant leaves in early spring which will have faded by the time the flower has opened, making it a useful addition to mixed flower borders. These attractive flowers can be cut for floral arrangements or left to develop into seed heads giving structure to late autumn and winter displays. Preferring a sheltered spot with full sunshine, this easy to grow bulb needs to be planted 10cm deep in autumn. If your soil is heavy, you may wish to add grit into the planting hole to improve the drainage - winter wet can rot the bulb. If clumps get too big, they can be lifted and divided in spring or autumn. Replant the healthiest bulbs 10cm apart. Take care with the unearthed bulbs as Alliums are poisonous to our pets.

Common problems with Star of Persia

How to harvest Star of Persia

Collect ripe seeds in autumn for use straight away, or store in cool dry conditions for spring sowings. Cut flowers/seed heads as and when required for floral arrangements. Although the leaves, bulb and bullets are edible with a slightly bitter flavour - and can be eaten raw in small amounts they are toxic if eaten in quantity. Although edible for humans, it is not recommended to eat bulbs produced for the ornamental industry. Consult with a medical professional for further details.

How to propagate Star of Persia


Lift bulbs in autumn while the plant is dormant and separate offsets. Replanting or potting up straight away.


Plant bulbs - or offsets from them - in autumn, up to three times their diameter, approximately 10cm.


A consideration is Allium grown from seeds may take several years to reach maximum size. Sow in containers in a cold frame when just ripe or in the spring.

Special features of Star of Persia

Attractive flowers

Attracts useful insects

This species is part of the RHS “Plants for Pollinators” initiative to showcase plants which support pollinator populations by providing ample amounts of nectar and/ or pollen. A great choice for encouraging pollinating insect wildlife into your garden!

Drought resistant

Survive dry summers in bulb form.

Pot plant

Suits being grown in raised beds or larger containers to balance the height of the flowering stem.

Repels harmful insects

Their mild onion scent can repel harmful insects from other plants

Other uses of Star of Persia

Dried arrangements, border, edging, rock garden, cutting bed, walls, rock garden Resistant to deer and rabbits.