Although I have to admit I haven’t done it yet, but just about every year, I like to grow the Perennial Plant of the Year selected by the Perennial Plant Association. As a matter of fact, as soon as I find out what the selection is, I start making mental plans about adding one in our garden, while looking for an appropriate planting location too. Needless to say, they have all fared very well in the past.
But for some reason, the selection for 2011, Amsonia hubrichtii, commonly known as Arkansas Blue Star or Arkansas Amsonia, somewhat disappointed me last year; despite my best efforts, not only were there no blooms, but the plant showed poor growth; with so many chores to take care of in the garden, I tried not to dwell too much on it at that time.
However, at the onset of this spring, several vigorous shoots came up from the site of last year’s planting, growing rapidly and setting many flower buds in a matter of short time. The plant, now, is in full bloom, bearing star-shaped flowers in the most delicate shade of blue, hence the nickname Arkansas Blue Star. Incidentally, plants that bear blue flowers are not as often found as those in other colors, making an Amsonia ever more desirable.
A native of Arkansas and Oklahoma, Amsonia hubrichtii is a multi-season interest perennial. In spring when the plants break dormancy, the shoots grow fast but stay within a mounded form. The foliage has such a fine feathery texture that the plants sway with the slightest breeze; soon after, the branches are topped with clusters of light blue flowers that add much to the loveliness of the plant. But, the show does not stop here, for the foliage turns a brilliant golden-yellow in fall!
Amsonia hubrichtii prefer to be grown in full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil; insufficient sun can make the plants floppy. Once established, they can be left alone, although like most other perennials in our garden, I sprinkle some Plant-tone around each plant as soon as new growth appears, to give them a good start.
Easy to grow, drought tolerant and deer resistant are some of the other merits of this high-performer. Seems like the one we grew needed a little rest period in order to perform!