Chasing after gold often results in tragedy. But go ahead and chase Arkansas bluestar: Chase it, capture it, and bury it in your yard. Come fall, you’ll have more gold treasure than the Dread Pirate Roberts. This native perennial, which blooms with star-shaped light blue flowers in spring and summer, has very narrow green leaves that turn brilliant gold in autumn. Even a small clump will turn heads, but you can plant several together or combine Arkansas bluestar with fall-blooming perennials like asters and goldenrods for even more late-season drama.
Common name: Bluestar, Arkansas bluestar, threadleaf bluestar
Botanical name: Amsonia hubrichtii
Plant type: Perennial
Zones: 5 to 9
Height: 3 feet
• Sun: Full sun to part shade
• Soil: Average, well drained
• Moisture: Average
• Mulch: Mulch to preserve moisture in the soil.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: None needed.
• By seed or division.
Pests and diseases
• Vulnerable to rust.
• Grow Arkansas bluestar among spring bulbs, where its feathery green summer leaves will hide fading bulb foliage.
• After it blooms in spring, cut the stems of Arkansas bluestar back by about 6 inches to help prevent the plant from flopping over.
• Butterflies like the blooms.
• For the strongest impact, plant several Arkansas bluestar together.
All in the family
• Several relatives of Arkansas bluestar are also garden favorites, including willow bluestar (A. tabernaemontana) and blue milkweed (A. ciliata). Several Amsonia hybrids are also available: A. ‘Blue Ice’ is a hardy, compact cultivar with bright blue flowers, and A. ‘Seaford Skies’ tends to be bigger than the species.
• Other members of the Apocynaceae or dogbane family that might be in your garden are oleander, vinca, and mandevilla.
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden’s Kemper Center for Home Gardening)