Growing Mexican Stars: What Are Mexican Star Flowers

White Mexican Star Flower
mexican star
(Image credit: Katja Schulz)

Mexican star flowers (Milla biflora) are native plants that grow wild in the southwestern United States. It is one of six species in the genus and not widely cultivated. Read on for information about growing Mexican stars as well as tips on Mexican star plant care.

About Mexican Star Flowers

Mexican star flowers are native to North America. You can see wild growing Mexican stars in both the southwestern states of this country, like Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas as well as in Mexico. They prefer hilly areas with desert grassland and chaparral.

All of the plants in the “Milla” genus are cormous. This means that they grow from bulb-like root structures called corms. Mexican star flowers are herbaceous perennial plants that grow from a large bulb or corm. The corm is made up of a concentric layer of plant matter some 0.4 to 0.8 inches (1–2 cm.) in diameter.

The plants grow on stems (called scapes) that are 2 to 22 inches (5-55 cm.) tall. They have green veins, very apparent along the stem and undersides of the petals. The few leaves are basal and grass-like, an attractive blue-green.

Flowers are a shiny white, each with six distinct lobes. They are fragrant and can bloom from June through September if the growth conditions are good. Small fruit ultimately replace the blossoms.

Growing Mexican Stars

Obviously, before you can begin planting Mexican star Milla corms, you will have to locate some. The corms are sometimes available in commerce as rare bulbs, but there is not much information available about how to cultivate them.

If you are interested in growing Mexican stars, you will do best to try to duplicate their growing conditions in the wild. Mexican star plant care begins with finding a likely site similar to their native habitat. In the wild, Mexican stars are found on volcanic soils on dry hillsides or ridges. They also grow in open woods and among oaks or pines.

A related species, Milla magnifica, has been cultivated more frequently. When you are planting Mexican star Milla corms, you might use the cultivation information for these plants. Gardeners grow the Milla magnifica corms in tall pots in an equal mixture of organic and inorganic material.

As far as Mexican start plant care, you need to provide the corms with warmth in order for them to start growing. Start them indoors if you live somewhere summers are chilly. Move the corms outside when they sprout and grow them in partial sun.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.