Fall Flower Feature: Amsonia

The days are rapidly getting shorter and darker, so you may not expect a whole lot of excitement in the garden (or in your life). Boy, do we have good news that will brighten up your autumn, and we like to refer to it as a three-season interest. Amsonia (A.K.A. Blue Star) shares various tones of beauty with us all throughout spring, summer and fall. We have gathered heaps of inside intel, just for you. Only you!

The first signs of life are noticed in spring, when small, dusky blue flowers bloom in the shape of a star (where Amsonia got its nickname). These lovely blooms last a few weeks, and then the channel is changed to summertime mode: threadlike, olive-green leaves. Many plant nerds geek out on the unique foliage of this plant, witnessing its colorful mounds of texture capturing the hearts of defenseless passersby. As fall falls, these leaves dance across the color spectrum to a striking golden yellow; the grand finale, and arguably the primary reason to include this plant in your array of perennials.

It’s gorgeous, but it’s tougher than any beefy, crooked nosed brawler in a bar; this dark horse is inherently resistant to disease, insects and even deer! How could that be? It’s all in the genes. Amsonia is an esteemed member of the Apocynaceae family. Nearly all members of this family have milky, often poisonous, juice or sap (only a mild irritant to humans) that makes curious and pesky creatures say, “Ew; I’ll pass.” This plant latex is comparable to animal venom, full of proteins and chemicals that keep it safe against all odds.

Amsonia is native to the Eastern US, and thrives in loam; a heavy, moist soil made up of equal sand, silt and clay soil. If you plant Blue Star in full sun, you’ll enjoy a more striking golden color in the fall. Alternatively, if you choose to plant in partial shade, your blooms will last longer. This long-living plant doesn’t require dividing or replacing; it’s so low maintenance, it makes our jaws drop. Our pollinator friends love it as well, especially those with a proboscis (those long, tongue-like tubes that suck up sweet nectar). You’ll see insects such as carpenter bees, butterflies, and hummingbird moths lingering in the vicinity of this floriferous plant, and perhaps even a few Ruby-throated hummingbirds as well.

Do you want your amsonia to have friends? Flowers need play dates just like we do, and Bridal Veil astilbe and wild ginger are great companion plants. Facilitate a harmonious ecosystem of health and wellness in your garden, and enjoy season after season of rainbows and butterflies.

Bridal Veil Astilbe

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