Most shooting stars are native to the American West and eight species and many more subspecies are native to California and bordering areas.

For gardening purposes, the various species can be divided into three groups, those from coastal and foothill regions of the West, those from mountain meadows of the West, and those from central and eastern North America. The plants from coastal and foothill regions need ample water in the winter and spring and they bloom in the spring and are dormant in the summer. Plants from the mountain West need water in late spring and summer and they bloom in the summer and are dormant in the winter. Both types should be given a dry period after blooming. Plants from central and eastern North America do not need a dry dormant period.

The following species have been used successfully in garden situations.

  • Dodecatheon clevelandii is native to southern California grasslands and openings in chaparral and coastal sage scrub. Flowers are usually pink but some forms have white flowers. The subspecies D. insularis is reported to be especially vigorous. This species blooms in the spring and is summer dormant.
  • Dodecatheon hendersonii is native to grasslands and openings in woodlands in the foothills of central and northern California. Flowers vary from purple to pink. Some races have four petals and some have five. It is reported to be easy to grow in containers. This species blooms in the spring and is summer dormant.
  • Dodecatheon meadia is native to open woods, rocky slopes and prairies of the eastern and midwestern United States and Manitoba, Canada. Flowers are white or pink. Plants bloom in late spring to early summer. Cultivars 'Alba', 'Aphrodite', 'Deluxe Mix', 'Goliath', and 'Queen Victoria' are available.
  • Dodecatheon jeffreyi is native to wet mountain meadows of the western United States. Flowers are red-purple. Plants bloom in the summer. Cultivars 'Rotlicht' and 'Spring Dawn' are available.
  • Dodecatheon alpinum and D. subalpinum are similar species native to wet high mountain meadows. Moisture is needed constantly during the growning season. Flowers are pink-purple. Plants bloom in the summer. These species do not always adapt well to lowland gardens.
Western species of shooting stars can be grown from seed. It takes two or three years for the plants to bloom. During this time the plant produces a tuber-like root system. Water should be withheld from the seedlings during their natural dormant season. The roots of mature plants can be divided in early spring, but it will be a year or more before the divisions bloom.
D. meadia can also be grown from seed but the seed should be stratiflied or planted when fresh. Mature plants can be divided in the fall.
Leaf rosette
Plants should get full sun in mild summer areas and afternoon shade in hot summer areas. They should have moderate to abundant water during the growing and blooming season. The western species should have a dry period following blooming. Plants can be grown in pots if your climate does not provide the suitable dry season.
Shooting stars are a wildflower that can be grown in a garden situation. There is at least one species suitable to much of the United States. Just be sure to provide the necessary water and a dry period if applicable.
Plants in habitat
All photographs in this article are of D. clevelandii.