One of the underrated perennials, Amsonia have a lot more going for them than meets the eye. The only species widely found for sale is Amsonia tabernaemontana, and this is really a pity.
The problem with most Amsonia species is that they are not ‘showy’ enough for most nurseries to promote. However this overlooks the fact that they are long flowering, easy care and although not ‘spectacular’ they are attractive.
As a group they are called ‘blue stars’, a term that related more to the bud stage of the flowers when the color is most intense. However it is the foliage that is the added attraction, neat a good green and it adds a little texture to the garden as well.
Depending on the species and the cultivar plant will reach from less than 1ft in height to nearly 3ft and with over 20 species two of the more popular are Amsonia hubrichtii is the ‘Arkansas blue star’ and Amsonia tabernaemontana is known as the ‘eastern blue star’.
Perhaps underused in gardens they do make a great filler plant for the border. They tend not to crowd out other plants, are hardy and yet not invasive. Attractive starry mauve flowers in spring and good bright green lance shaped foliage.
With such a range of species only general notes can be given.
- Humus rich soil
- Good drainage is essential
- Part shade to full sun depending on species and climate.
- Amsonia tabernaemontana
- Amsonia illustris
- Amsonia hubrichtii
- Amsonia peelesii – Rare in cultivation, however it is extremely drought tolerant. 1ft to 2ft in height.
- Amsonia orientalis – A species from the Mediterranean, good golden yellow color in fall.
- Easy from seed sown into a cold frame in winter, or planted directly in spring.
- Cuttings of semi hardened new growth taken in early summer is fairly easy.
- Also propagated by division of established clumps, however this is difficult for all but the experienced gardener.
Not really suited to areas of high heat and humidity in summer.
You can find Amsonia for sale at the following nurseries
DIGGING DOG NURSERY – phone (707) 937-1130
PO Box 471 Albion CA 95410
A spectacular selection of hard to find perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs, trees and vines for your garden.