A recipient of the Perennial Plant of the Year award in 2011, blue star has only recently made its way into ornamental horticulture. Use this clump-forming perennial, which bears blue flowers that resemble small stars, in a border or wildflower garden, a container, or at a woodland edge.
Garden Plans For Bluestar
Blue and Purple Blooms
This plant's flowers range in color from the dark blue of closed buds to the soft powdery blue of open flowers—often appearing as a two-tone effect. Even when not in bloom, this airy, graceful plant displays willowlike foliage that in some varieties turns golden yellow in the fall—a rarity among herbaceous perennials. Some newer, more ornamental varieties feature stems that range in color from dark purple to nearly black.
How to Grow Bluestar
Blue star's care depends on the species being grown. Generally, blue star prefers fertile, well-drained soils. Moisture requirements vary. Amsonia hubrichtii, a more drought-tolerant variety, does not require constant moisture. Other species, such as Amsonia tabernaemontana, are less drought-tolerant and prefer evenly moist soils. (Check with the supplier for plant specifics.)
Plant blue star in full sun to get the most spectacular color and prevent flopping (which is especially important with taller varieties). In regions with very warm summers, plant blue star in part shade. Prune any floppy plants (especially those growing in part shade) to make them sturdier. Cutting back blue star a few inches after blooming creates a tighter habit and prevents the plant from aggressively self-seeding. Divide the plant in spring or root plant cuttings in early summer. Blue star is not susceptible to serious insect problems or diseases, although rust is a possibility.
New Types of Bluestar
When blue star first came to market, it was seed-grown so plants displayed variability. The development of named cultivars has helped create uniform plants that suit mass plantings. Breeders also look to create dwarf plants with multiseasonal interest and new varieties with richer, deeper foliage colors.
More Varieties of Bluestar
Amsonia hubrectii grows 2-3 feet high with fine feathery chartreuse foliage. Powder blue flowers are borne midspring, and the plant turns golden in fall. Zones 5-9
Amsonia ciliata offers fine-textured, feathery leaves on a 2- to 3-foot-tall mounded plant. It adds great color to the garden thanks to the silvery, fuzzy hairs that appear on new leaves and plant stems. Zones 5-9
Amsonia illustris features shiny, leathery leaves. Swallowtail butterflies love the nectar of the steel blue flowers. Zones 5-9
Amsonia tabernaemontana salicifolia grows 3-4 feet tall and has a lovely, upright habit. Cut back plants immediately after their blue flowers appear in late spring to prevent self-seeding and to prevent plants from becoming floppy. Zones 3-9
Plant Bluestar With:
Catmint is one of the toughest perennials you can grow. It's a proven performer during hot, dry weather, and the silvery foliage and blue flowers look great most of the season. Deadhead or cut back hard after first flush of bloom to encourage more flowers. Average, well-drained soil is usually sufficient. Tall types may need gentle staking; it sometimes seeds freely.As you might guess from the common name, catmint is a favorite of cats. They'll often roll around in the plants in delight.
Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, iris indeed comes in a rainbow of colors and in many heights. All have the classic, impossibly intricate flowers. The flowers are constructed with three upright "standard" petals and three drooping "fall" petals, which are often different colors. The falls may be "bearded" or not. Some cultivars bloom a second time in late summer. Some species prefer alkaline soil while others prefer acidic soil.Shown above: Immortality iris
Easy and undemanding, veronicas catch the eye in sunny gardens over many months. Some have mats with loose clusters of saucer-shaped flowers, while others group their star or tubular flowers into erect tight spikes. A few veronicas bring elusive blue to the garden, but more often the flowers are purplish or violet blue, rosy pink, or white. Provide full sun and average well-drained soil. Regular deadheading extends bloom time.