Arkansas blue star

Arkansas blue star boasts small blue flower clusters in late spring, but the reason to grow this plant is the foliage. In the fall the it brightens to a soft gold. Photo by C. Reese.


Arkansas blue star

Submitted by Carol Reese,
UT Extension Horticulture Specialist, Western Region
Amsonia hubrichtii, also called Arkansas blue star, derives its common name from the clusters of small light blue flowers that appear in late spring at the plant’s stem terminals. They are pleasant enough, but hardly show stopping. The reason to grow this plant is the foliage.
Soft, long and narrow leaves surround the numerous stems, creating a shrub-like effect. The stems sway in the wind, the leaves ripple and the entire plant seems to softly billow. Arkansas blue star is a thing of beauty throughout the summer, and only gets better in autumn when the foliage brightens to a soft gold. This is perhaps its best moment in the garden.
Arkansas blue star is an easily grown perennial that is native to the southeast.  It can take the hottest and most humid of summers without losing a step. It is rarely troubled by pests or disease. Amsonia prefers sunny sites and well-drained soil.  In fact, it may be happiest in lean soils. A mature plant will grow to between 2- and 3-feet tall and wide and is hardy in zones 6 to 9. You may also find the slightly smaller but very similar cousin in the trade, Downy amsonia Amsonia ciliata, or the bolder-foliaged Common blue star Amsonia tabernaemontana.


Carol Reese is the Western Region Ornamental Horticulture Specialist for University of Tennessee Extension. Her office is located in the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson. The UT Gardens located in Knoxville and Jackson are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture and their mission is to foster appreciation, education, and stewardship of plants through garden displays, collections, educational programs, and research trials. The gardens are open during all seasons and free to the public. See http://utgardens.tennessee.edu/  and http://westtennessee.tennessee.edu/ornamentals/ for more information.
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Contacts:
Carol Reese, UT Extension, 731-425-4767, jreese5@utk.edu
Patricia McDaniels, UTIA Marketing and Communications Services, 615-835-4570, pmcdaniels@tennessee.edu