Amsonia hubrichtii - 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year - U of I Extension

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Amsonia hubrichtii - 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year

This article was originally published on November 15, 2010 and expired on March 1, 2011. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

The Perennial Plant Association membership has selected Amsonisa hubrichtii as the 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

"Pronounced am-SO-nee-ah hew-BRIK-tee-eye, it has several common names," said Martha Smith. "Gardeners may be more familiar with Arkansas blue star, Arkansas amsonia, thread-leaf blue star, narrow leaf blue star, and Hubricht's blue star.

"This all-season perennial has blue star-shaped flowers in spring and light green foliage all summer. But wait – there is more! In fall the foliage turns an outstanding shade of golden-yellow."

Amsonia is a North American native. The species was found in Arkansas in 1942 by Leslie Hubricht. The foliage is thin and strap–like often reaching three inches in length. From late spring to early summer, two- to three-inch wide clusters of small, light blue, star shaped flowers appear above the ferny foliage. This amsonia forms a three-foot-by-three-foot mound

"Arkansas blue star offers so much to our landscapes," she said. "The bright green, fine textured foliage in spring and summer contrast well with medium to large perennials or shrubs.

"It grows into a dense mass, very much like a small shrub. The soft, cool-blue flowers blend with any adjacent flower color. Although the light blue flowers are the inspiration for the common name, the autumn color is a major reason gardeners add this plant to their perennial borders. A definite "must-have" for any fall landscape."

Amsonia hubrichtii grows best in full sun and partial shade and in well-drained soil.

"If grown in too much shade you can expect the plant to flop open," said Smith. "Once established this plant can tolerate neglect. As a native it is very soil-adaptive and insects and diseases are rare.

"Another noteworthy aspect of this plant is the stems contain a milky sap which deer seem to stay away from. Arkansas blue star is hardy in USDA zones four to nine so it will do well throughout Illinois."

Arkansas blue star can be used in sunny borders, cottage plantings, native gardens, and in large container plantings.

"Contrast against purple foliage for a great summer look and an outstanding fall combination," she said. "This perennial workhorse provides three splendid seasons of ornamental features."

Source: Martha A. Smith, Extension Educator, Horticulture, smithma@illinois.edu

Pull date: March 1, 2011