The bluestar flower offers seven common varieties that bloom in a multitude of hues of blue and violet in spring and provide vivid fall foliage. This drought hearty plant also seems impervious to disease and insects.
You might have first noted the Bluestar Amsonia (Genus Amsonia) when it received the 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year award. In the past decade, it has become popular in ornamental horticulture. This blue flowering plant has star-shaped flower blooms. Choose the clump-forming perennial as a lovely border flower that also works well in a wildflower garden, a container, or on a woodland edge. It complements any cottage garden.
You can obtain many months of garden happiness from the Bluestar Amsonia. It blooms colorfully in spring with many hues of blue flowers, then produces blue and green fall foliage. In between those two seasons, you also have a drought-tolerant plant, so no worries if you live in an area that develops a dry spell or drought. This low-maintenance flower provides a deer-resistant plant that attracts birds. The method of propagation for this flower is seed division.
• Sun/shade needed: partial sun or full sun
• Water needed: average water needs
• Hardiness USDA zone: zones 3 to 9
• Height: 1 to 3 feet 3 to 8 feet
• Width 1 to 4 feet wide
Types of Bluestar Amsonia
Choose from these varieties of bluestar flowers. Not all of these varieties provide the drought heartiness of the most common type of flower.
Arkansas blue star (Amsonia hubrichtii)
Probably the most drought-tolerant variety, the hubrichtii does not need constant moisture. It grows to two to three feet in height and exhibits chartreuse foliage with fine feathery leaves. In mid-spring, it blooms with powder blue flowers. The foliage turns gold during fall. You can only grow this variety in zones 5 to 9. It grows natively as a wildflower in the south-central US.
European bluestar (Amsonia orientalis)
This dogbane flower grows naturally in European Turkey and Greece. It suffers from over-harvesting and habitat loss.
Blue Ice (Amsonia tabernaemontana)
This less drought-tolerant variety prefers moist soil. It grows native to Connecticut and attains a height of 15 to 18 inches.
Downy bluestar (Amsonia ciliate)
This two to three feet in height plant features feathery, fine-textured leaves with silver, fuzzy hairs on both stems and leaves. You can only grow this variety in zones 5 to 9.
Shining bluestar (Amsonia illustris)
This bluestar variety features leathery, shiny leaves. YOU can attract many swallowtail butterflies with these steel blue flowers because they love this flower’s nectar. You can only grow this variety in zones 5 to 9.
Willowleaf bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana salicifolia)
Your willowleaf will grow floppy if you do not cut it back as soon as the dark blue flowers appear. By doing this it encourages a tall and strong growth habit and up to four feet tall. You will also curtail the flower from self-seeding by doing this. You can grow this variety in Zones 3 to 9.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
As simple as these plants are to grow, questions still arise. We’ll try to address the most obvious here.
How do you plant bluestar?
Plant bluestar in full sun typically, but in areas with very warm temperatures in the summer, you need to plant it in partial shade. Make them sturdier by pruning them regularly. Also, cut them back a few inches after they bloom, so they won’t self-seed. Cut root plants in early summer and divide the plant in spring.
What problems or diseases might this plant develop?
It may develop rust, but it is not disease susceptible, nor does it attract insect problems. This makes it ideal for any perennial border including woodland gardens and urban streetside plantings.
Why did I just spot a cultivar in the store that is not listed?
Plant breeders work hard to provide locally what gardeners want for their gardens. When they have suggested dwarf varieties or interest in a multi-seasonal plant, the local growers complied creating a cultivar at their nursery. You may also find locally available varieties with different foliage colors.
Do bluestar flowers need to be staked?
Yes. As they get taller, these flowers can grow floppy. You need to stake them to help them remain upright. Use a hoop or trim them back about one-third of their size.
Can you eat bluestar flowers?
No. These flowers are toxic to humans and to pets. You should not let your household pets munch on these when they go outside.
In what soils do this flower best grow?
You can plant these flowers in chalky, clay, loamy, or sandy soils. They grow well in nearly any environment.
What soil pH do you need?
These blue star flowers require a soil pH of 6.2 to 7.0 to grow properly. You can add store-bought materials such as bone meal, manure, compost, and potting soil to achieve this pH.
With what flowers do these blue stars pair well?
The versatile Amsonia looks beautiful with nearly every plant. Its blue, violet, and white blooms work well with many garden looks. Typical pairings include blue stars with oat grass or with large-leaved plants like peonies and hosta. They do grow quite bushy, so you may need to thin the plantings. If you want to plant a blue-hued garden, try blue star with cornflower, irises, delphinium, violets, globe thistle, and daisies. Plant them as a border to hydrangea bushes.
Do animals like this plant?
Yes! Don’t worry about deer, this flower attracts animals you probably do want in your garden who will neither eat it nor trample it. Hummingbirds adore Bluestar and many other pollinators such as bees and hummingbird moths. You can create a beautiful nature garden in your yard by planting this. Many butterflies obtain larval food from their nectar. Conversely, the foliage contains a milky spa that deer abhor. Other herbivores also dislike its taste, so you do not have to worry about them munching on your plant leaves.
Is it normal that my skin itches after weeding and pruning this plant?
You should wear gloves when you work around this plant. Its sap is a skin irritant. The same thing that turns off deer, causes skin irritation.
To what family does this flower belong?
The Bluestar belongs to the Apocynaceae family. Its closely related species include the Adenium, Allamanda, Amsonia, Asclepias, Nerium, Pachypodium, Wrightia, Vinca. You can plant these varieties with it knowing that due to their similarities, they will get along just fine.
How did the Blue Star flower get its name?
The genus of Amsonia received its name in honor of the American physician and former mayor of Williamsburg, John Amson.
How do you start seedlings of this genus?
You can get your Amsonia plants started indoors before moving them to your garden for a late spring planting. Start them off at least nine weeks before you plant them outside. Grow your seeds in peat pots at a temperature of 57 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.