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Perennial Plant of the Year ­– Arkansas Bluestar
by Russell Studebaker

The Perennial Plant Association has chosen for the 2011 perennial of the year the Arkansas amsonia, also known as Arkansas bluestar and threadleaf bluestar. Leslie Hubricht first discovered it in Arkansas in 1942 and his name was bestowed to this species, Amsonia hubrichtii. This amsonia species is also a native wildflower to most of Oklahoma.

Light blue flowers appear in late April to early May in domed panicles at the ends of the stems. The flowers are attractive to swallowtail butterflies and especially zebra swallowtails.

The grassy foliage ranges from over an inch to 3 inches long and the plants produce clumps about 2 to 3 feet tall. In October the foliage is second to none with a golden to clear yellow color, making it one of the few herbaceous perennials with good fall color that lasts for weeks.

The Arkansas amsonia is definitely a star in the garden.

    

QUICK FACTS AND KEYS TO SUCCESS:

Common Name: Arkansas bluestar, Hubricht’s bluestar, threadleaf bluestar, Arkansas amsonia

Color: Sky-blue, 1-inch trumpet-like flowers on nodding racemes on stem terminals

Height: 12 to 14 inches

Bloom Period: Late April-early May

Type of Plant: Native herbaceous perennial

Exposure to Sun: Full sun best, but tolerates light shade.

When to Plant: Anytime from containers

Soil: Well drained, average to rich

Watering: Normal applications, drought resistant after well established.

Maintenance: Plant 18 to 20 inches apart; pest and maintenance free, forms a woody tap-like root system.

In Your Landscape: Use as a specimen or back of the border planting. Naturalize it in clearings or at the edge of woods. Combine with butterfly weed, sundrops (Oenothera), black-eyed Susans, purple coneflower and Baptisia. Contrast it with Siberian iris, golden barberry, Black Lace elderberry or 'Dart's Gold' ninebark.

Mail Order Sources: Pine Ridge Gardens, London, Ark., ph: 479.293.4359, web: pineridgegardens.com; Clear Creek Farm and Gardens, Peggs, Okla., ph: 918.598.3782

 

 


The Arkansas amsonia is a star among native perennials in the garden for its blue flowers,
fine-textured foliage and its striking golden fall color. (Photo by Melanie Blandford.)


 

(Amsonia flower photography courtesy of Steven Still/Perennial Plant Association.)

Posted February 2011

 


Russell Studebaker is a professional horticulturist, book author and garden columnist for the Tulsa World. He is a frequent lecturer at garden events in the Southern region.

 

       

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