Amsonia, a Perennial Blue Beauty

Amsonia is in full, feathery bloom in early May in our MD garden.
Amsonia is in full, feathery bloom in early May in our MD garden. | Source
Amsonia hubrichtii was named the 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association.
Amsonia hubrichtii was named the 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. | Source

Amsonia hubrichtii was voted the Perennial Plant Association's Perennial Plant of the Year in 2011—and for good reason.

Amsonia is drought-resistant and deer-resistant, and no known insects or diseases attack it. It also looks year round.

In spring and summer, when it's not producing small, light blue flowers, amsonia almost glows with light green color. In autumn it really does glow, turning a golden yellow that provides a stunning backdrop for plants such as purple coneflower, gayfeather and Black Lace elderberry.

Amsonia is striking enough to grow singly as a specimin plant, but it's particularly appealing when grown in clumps. A single plant will spread if it's happy in its location. Ours, pictured above, began as a single plant. In three years it has tripled in size.

Amsonia hubrichtii goes by many common names: Arkansas blue star, thread leaf blue star, narrow leaf blue star, Hubricht’s blue star, Arkansas amsonia and sometimes simply amsonia.


Blue Star Perennial 15 Seeds - Amsonia
Blue Star Perennial 15 Seeds - Amsonia

Try Amsonia in your garden. It's drought and deer resistant.

 
Like its leaves, Amsonia's flowers have a feathery appearance. In full sun, they may fade to light blue or white.
Like its leaves, Amsonia's flowers have a feathery appearance. In full sun, they may fade to light blue or white. | Source
Amsonia hubrichtii was a good low-maintenance choice for this landscaping island.
Amsonia hubrichtii was a good low-maintenance choice for this landscaping island. | Source

Where does amsonia grow best?

Amsonia is hardy in USDA Zones 4-9. It does best in full sun but will also grow in partial shade. If the area is too shady, its stems will become floppy.

Amsonia prefers moist, well-drained soil. However, as noted above, it can tolerate drier conditions once it's established.

Amsonia is drought tolerant. Except when we first planted it, we have never watered ours, even at the height of summer.
Amsonia is drought tolerant. Except when we first planted it, we have never watered ours, even at the height of summer. | Source

How is the Perennial of the Year chosen?

A wide range of professionals belong to the Perennial Plant Association, including plant wholesalers, landscape designers, garden writers and/or lecturers, photographers, contractors and gardeners.

Each year, members cast their votes for the Perennial Plant of the Year. The winning plant is chosen based on these criteria:

  1. It must grow well in a wide range of climates.
  2. It must be low maintenance.
  3. It must be easy to propagate, either by seed or vegetatively.
  4. It must add interest to the landscape over several seasons.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
2010 Perennial Plant of the Year Baptisia autralis (Blue Wild Indigo)Hakonechloa macra Aureola (Japanese Forest Grass) 2009 Perennial Plant of the YearGeranium 'Rozanne,' Perennial Plant of the Year, 2008Nepeta racemosa 'Walkers Low' (Catmint), 2007 Perennial Plant of the YearDianthus Feuerhexe (Firewitch), 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year Helleborus x hybridus  (Lenten rose), 2005 Perennial Plant of the Year2003 Perennial Plant of the Year Leucanthemum Becky (Shasta daisy)2002 Perennial Plant of the Year, Phlox David (Garden Phlox) 2001 Perennial Plant of the Year Calamagrostis x acutiflora Karl Foerster (Feather Reed Grass)
2010 Perennial Plant of the Year Baptisia autralis (Blue Wild Indigo)
2010 Perennial Plant of the Year Baptisia autralis (Blue Wild Indigo) | Source
Hakonechloa macra Aureola (Japanese Forest Grass) 2009 Perennial Plant of the Year
Hakonechloa macra Aureola (Japanese Forest Grass) 2009 Perennial Plant of the Year | Source
Geranium 'Rozanne,' Perennial Plant of the Year, 2008
Geranium 'Rozanne,' Perennial Plant of the Year, 2008 | Source
Nepeta racemosa 'Walkers Low' (Catmint), 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year
Nepeta racemosa 'Walkers Low' (Catmint), 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year | Source
Dianthus Feuerhexe (Firewitch), 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year
Dianthus Feuerhexe (Firewitch), 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year | Source
Helleborus x hybridus  (Lenten rose), 2005 Perennial Plant of the Year
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose), 2005 Perennial Plant of the Year | Source
2003 Perennial Plant of the Year Leucanthemum Becky (Shasta daisy)
2003 Perennial Plant of the Year Leucanthemum Becky (Shasta daisy) | Source
2002 Perennial Plant of the Year, Phlox David (Garden Phlox)
2002 Perennial Plant of the Year, Phlox David (Garden Phlox) | Source
2001 Perennial Plant of the Year Calamagrostis x acutiflora Karl Foerster (Feather Reed Grass)
2001 Perennial Plant of the Year Calamagrostis x acutiflora Karl Foerster (Feather Reed Grass) | Source

What other plants have been chosen?

Here are the Perennial Plant Association's last 10 picks for Perennial Plant of the Year. Each is pictured to your right.

  1. 2010 Baptisia Australis

  2. 2009 Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola'

  3. 2008 Geranium ‘Rozanne'

  4. 2007 Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

  5. 2006 Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Feuerhexe’

  6. 2005 Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)

  7. 2004 Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ (Japanese Painted Fern)

  8. 2003 Leucanthemum ‘Becky’ (Shasta Daisy ‘Becky’)

  9. 2002 Phlox ‘David’ (Garden Phlox ‘David’)

  10. 2001 Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (Feather Reed Grass)

A Great Book at a Phenomenal Price!

50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants
50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants

Amsonia is just one of the super hardy perennial plants this book covers.

 
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About the Author

The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.

She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm.

Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.

© 2011 Jill

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Comments 4 comments

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The Dirt Farmer 4 years ago from United States Author

We just put in a landscaping island with amsonia planted in front of coneflowers. Can't wait to see how the combination works. Thanks for commenting, RTalloni!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Oh! I can see how it would be a beautiful fall backdrop for colorful flowers! Thanks for highlighting amsonia.


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 5 years ago from United States Author

Thanks, Miss Mellie! Hope you give amsonia a try.


Miss Mellie profile image

Miss Mellie 5 years ago

Wow, that amsonia is quite the dramatic plant, isn't it! It's really something how it gives such varied and different looks throughout the seasons. Nice article with great photos, and the list of past Perennial Plant of the year winners is an awesome reference. Voted useful, beautiful and up.

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