Amsonia (Blue Star)

The Amsonia genus comes from the dogbane plant family, Apocynaceae, and encompasses 18 different flowering plants.

Amsonia plants are also known as blue stars, and most come from North America, though one species hails from East Asia, and another comes from the Mediterranean.

Amsonia At A Glance

Amsonia plants are recognizable for their starry flowers, which are tubular where they form at the top of the stems, opening out into large petals.

They work well both as contrasting plants in a mixed bed, and as groups of starry blooms.

They also invite plenty of pollinators into your garden, such as butterflies and bees.

As these striking plants are part of the Apocynaceae plant family, it is worth noting that they contain a white sap which can be dangerous.

This sap acts as a deterrent to many insects and grazers, to prevent the plant from being eaten.

It is also harmful to pets and humans, causing skin irritation on contact, and potentially worse problems if ingested.

Always wear gloves when handling plants from the dogbane family, and avoid them entirely if you have pets or children regularly visiting your garden.

Amsonia Types

There are plenty of Amsonia cultivars to choose from. 

Amsonia ciliata, which hails from North America, is a great option, also known as the fringed blue star. It features light blue flowers, and very thin, tiny foliage in a bright green.

Amsonia hubrichtii, or Hubricht’s blue star, is a very popular ornamental, hailing from Oklahoma and Arkansas.

It’s a fairly tall variety, featuring thin, airy foliage, and very thin, blue starry flowers, which appear in clusters.

If you prefer Amsonia with larger leaves, Amsonia orientalis or the European blue star features large oval leaves and flowers with bright blue flowers.

It’s important to note that this plant is critically endangered in the wild, so make sure you buy it from a reputable source.

Amsonia Name Origin

The genus name originates from Dr John Amson, an English doctor and enthusiastic botanist.

He treated George Washington of a short illness, and told him he wouldn’t die. John Clayton named the Amsonia genus after him.

The common name, blue star, comes from the appearance of the flowers, and the bluish tinge present in the white blooms.

For a more silvery look, Amsonia tomentosa is perfect. It’s also called the wooly blue star or gray amsonia, featuring silvery down on its foliage, and near-white flowers.

Amsonia Flower Symbolism

Amsonia blooms signify resilience, strength, the power of will, and endurance.

Amsonia Growing Requirements

Amsonia plants are hardy in USDA zones 3 through to 9, and may reach between 4 inches and 4 feet tall, depending on the variety you go for.

These plants require soil with plenty of drainage, preferably rich in organic matter, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Amsonia perennials will grow in partial sunlight and full sunlight, and don’t need a lot of attention in order to thrive.

Provided that you plant them early enough, they will flower throughout spring and summer.

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