Amsonia is a blooming perennial native to North America, not yet spoiled by the attention of Europe summer residents. And completely in vain, because it could become a worthy specimen of even the most exquisite landscape collection. The plant is relatively unpretentious, but absolutely charming!
Outwardly, it resembles a densely overgrown marsh hummock, strewn with blue stars of small flowers, collected in spherical inflorescences and not repeating in shape and size. Among other ornamental herbaceous plants for open ground, Amsonia also stands out for its autumn transformation, when it suddenly flares up with golden fire, giving a fading garden a special charm.
Amsonia (in America it may have the name “blue star”) is a bushy light-loving herb for the open ground of the Kutrov family, forming an ornamental shrub usually a little more than half a meter high, although tall specimens are also found. Leaves are thin, oblong, multiple stems are dense enough. It blooms early, even in spring, in a scattering of small, star-like flowers, which form inflorescence caps, a bit like phlox.
Flowering lasts from the end of May until about the end of June, then the foliage begins to change from green to pearl gray, and with the onset of autumn, the fluffy bushes acquire a bright yellow color, which looks very impressive. By this time, the fruits ripen – cylindrical pods 10 cm in length, which until late autumn serve as another decorative decoration of the planting.
When damaged, the plant secretes milky juice, which is typical for all members of the family.
Popular varieties of Amsonia
Among the varieties that are grown, the following are the most common.
The most unpretentious and winter-hardy variety. It blooms with light blue inflorescences up to 10 cm in diameter, collected in lush domes, from the end of May (and in warmer regions from the middle) to the end of June. Needle-rich green leaves up to 8 cm long are located tightly to each other, fall late, long burning out in the autumn garden with a bright golden “fire”. Has an increased immunity to rot and other diseases.
Another relatively undemanding to heat and completely unpretentious in terms of growing conditions, a variety native to the states of Texas and Florida in the United States. It grows both on waterlogged soils and on rocky ground. Tabernemontana also tolerates shady places well, but the most natural, as for other varieties of this culture, are well-lit areas for it. The buds effectively combine blue petals and deep blue tubular pharynx. For safe wintering, it is enough to sprinkle with snow in time.
A very demanding Mediterranean variety to weather conditions, so it cannot be found in Europen gardens, but it can be grown in a greenhouse. Throughout the entire cycle of annual development, it constantly changes its appearance.
Compared to other common varieties, it has more pubescent stems and less dense inflorescence caps, which makes it look like a blooming herringbone. The height of the bush is average, about 60 cm. The cold does not tolerate well.
It owes its name to the external similarity of the shape of the leaves and long elongated stems with the willow. Unlike other varieties, it has a strong woody root. Tall variety, reaching 1 m. Flowers are rarely planted, do not crumble in the rain and from the wind, decorate the bush for about a month. They can be used for cutting vases and composing Provence-style compositions.
Amsonia home care
The plant can be propagated by seeds, dividing the rhizome, cuttings. Also, at the beginning of summer, you can dig in layers or plant with shoots that are pinched off from a young bush.
The disadvantages of seed reproduction are a longer wait before the formation of an adult bush and the first flowering, as well as possible difficulties with the purchase of seed due to the lack of producers. But, if there is nowhere to take the mother plant for division, this is the only way out.
If the seeds are harvested on their own, you should be aware that they may not live up to expectations without inheriting varietal traits, since they contain all the genetic material.
A feature of this method is the obligatory cold stratification for 2 months at t + 4 … + 6C to simulate winter conditions. At home, the seed must be kept cold in winter (refrigerator, cellar, soil). In spring, the seedling method is used for planting, direct sowing is carried out before winter.
Pre-soaking will help speed up the germination of seeds for seedlings. You don’t need to do this in winter.
Seeds need to be taken with a good supply due to poor germination, especially when sowing in winter.
The optimal time is early spring, but you can also plant it in late autumn after the foliage has dropped. However, practice shows that autumn cuttings take root much worse.
The mother plant is dug out of the ground after preliminary loosening of the soil and is divided with a sharp knife into several parts, keeping 2-3 buds on each part. When transplanting, the root collar should remain at the same level, without deepening. The distance between mature bushes is at least 60 cm.
Without division, a specimen can grow up to 10 years.
Growing Amsonia outdoors
All of the above varieties can be successfully grown in gardens, with the exception of the oriental variety.
Site selection, soil requirements
The natural growing environment is open, illuminated areas with moist but well-drained soil. In the wild, these are well-lit shores of water bodies and non-swampy lowlands. Cold-hardy varieties are usually less demanding on light, some of them, for example, Tabernemontana, can grow near large-sized plants that give a loose shade. The soil for planting is best done with fluff because high acidity is destructive for the culture. The optimal type of soil is sandy and sandy loam.
In a sunny area, the culture forms compact, neat bushes-bumps, and in shaded places they turn out to be spreading and rather loose, therefore, they require a garter to maintain straightness and a neat appearance.
As a densely leafy plant that evaporates large amounts of moisture from the leaf surface, Amsonia requires well-moisturized soil. Planting in places with natural soil moisture is desirable, for example, near artificial reservoirs. In drought, it requires abundant regular watering.
Fertilizers for Amsonia can not be used at all, especially organic matter. But in the spring, you can add ready-made mineral complexes.
Garter and trim
Only specimens growing in conditions of lack of sunlight need a garter because in this case, they lose their compactness and look sloppy. To do this, a low rod or an ordinary peg is stuck in the middle of the flower.
Pruning is a necessary stage of care and involves the complete removal of shoots in the fall after the foliage is shed. Leave them no more than 10 cm. Cut-offshoots can be used as a shelter for the winter.
Blooming shoots of Amsonia are stable in cut, in addition, this prolongs the period of its flowering.
Despite the cold resistance, it is advisable to cover the roots of Amsonia for the winter, especially if the winter was snowless. It was noted that in regions with a warmer climate, it dies more often in winter than in middle latitudes, where a fairly high snow cover falls on the ground. For shelter, you can use any heat-insulating materials – spruce branches, needles, cut shoots, sawdust, etc., and throw more snow on top at the first opportunity.
Amsonia needs good lighting not only for flowering, but also for a beautiful transformation in autumn. Instances growing in the shade do not have this effect.
The use of Amsonia in landscape design
Best of all, the plant is overcame in a group, although it can also be grown in specimen plantings. Looks great against the background of mowed lawns and in combination with other tall ornamental shrubs, along garden paths and park alleys, as a decoration for borders, as well as on the bright shores of artificial and natural reservoirs.
The best neighbors in the flower garden for her will be garden geraniums, Bruner, Astelba, Primrose, Badan. And if you plant Amsonia against the background of warty euonymus, then their autumn red-gold duet will become a real highlight of a garden that falls asleep in winter.