Amsonia, a Perennial Blue Beauty
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.
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.
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:
- It must grow well in a wide range of climates.
- It must be low maintenance.
- It must be easy to propagate, either by seed or vegetatively.
- It must add interest to the landscape over several seasons.
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.
2010 Baptisia Australis
2009 Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola'
2008 Geranium ‘Rozanne'
2007 Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)
2006 Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Feuerhexe’
2005 Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten Rose)
2004 Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’ (Japanese Painted Fern)
2003 Leucanthemum ‘Becky’ (Shasta Daisy ‘Becky’)
2002 Phlox ‘David’ (Garden Phlox ‘David’)
2001 Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (Feather Reed Grass)
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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 Spencer