Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Plant of the Week: Amsonia

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Amsonia is one of my favorite “go-to” perennials, with its delicate spring blooms and attractive foliage.  Unfortunately, amsonia appears pretty bland when sold in the garden centers so it is often overlooked.  Don’t let first impressions fool you – amsonia is definitely garden worthy!

Genus:  Amsonia

The above left photo shows Amsonia tabernaemontana and the above right photo shows Amsonia hubrichtii (interplanted with bottle gentian, Gentiana andrewsii).  A common name for both species is blue star.

Family:  Apocynaceae

A. tabernaemontana (left) is native to Missouri and can be found growing wild in the southern part of the state.  The perennial rarely has any disease or pest problems and grows in a variety of soils and prefers full sun to part shade with moderate moisture (can also tolerate some draught).  The erect stems grow two to three feet tall and often do not need staking but cutting back the spent flowers will encourage a more bushy, upright form.

A. tabernaemontana has willow-like foliage while A. hubrichtii (right) has finer-textured foliage.  Both species have similar pale blue flowers but A. hubrichtii also has stellar, bright gold fall foliage.  I often use amsonia in my gardens as a repetitive “filler” perennial to create continuity – it can also nicely compliment other plants that might have beautiful flowers but little foliage.  Standing on its own, I have never found bottle gentian to be all that attractive (flower show in right photo) but is perfect when paired with amsonia.


See you in the gardens.


Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

March 31, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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