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NYU Garden Shop Plant of the Week--May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011

NYU Garden Shop Plant of the Week
By Head Gardener, George Reis
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Arkansas Blue Star (Amsonia hubrichtii) on the west side of Coles Sports Center, 181 Mercer Street.

In the spring of 2009, we planted this week's plant, Amsonia hubrichtii in our mini-meadow area on the west side of Coles Sports Center.  This plant has been named the 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year. Here's some great information from the Perennial Plant Association website on why this plant was chosen as this year's best perennial:

Amsonia hubrichtii -- 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year

"Amsonia hubrichtii is the Perennial Plant Association’s 2011 Perennial Plant of the Year.  Amsonia hubrichtii, pronounced am-SO-nee-ah hew-BRIK-tee-eye, carries the common names Arkansas blue star, Arkansas amsonia, thread-leaf blue star, narrow leaf blue star, and Hubricht’s blue star.  This all-season perennial has blue star-shaped flowers in spring and light green foliage all summer.  The foliage turns a beautiful golden-yellow in fall.  Arkansas blue star is very soil-adaptive and insects and diseases are rare.

Amsonia, a native of Arkansas and Oklahoma, is a member of the Apocynaceae family.  The species was named after Leslie Hubricht who first discovered it growing in Arkansas in 1942.  The foliage is finer than a feather duster and leaves reach three inches long.  This amsonia grows 36 inches tall and 36 inches wide in a mounded form.  From late spring to early summer, two- to three-inch wide clusters of small, light blue, star-shaped flowers are borne above the ferny foliage.  The alternate arranged leaves are bright green in spring and summer, but turn a bright yellow-golden color in fall.

Amsonia hubrichtii grows best in full sun and partial shade and in well-drained soil.  Stems tend to open and flop if plants are grown in too much shade.  Once well established, this blue star is drought tolerant and can withstand a season of neglect.  The foliage and stem contain a milky sap, which seems to make the plant unappealing to deer.  No insect or disease pests are known to attack Arkansas blue star.  It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.

Arkansas blue star is a timeless plant.  The foliage in spring and summer is one of the best for contrast with medium to large perennials or shrubs.  This blue star adds a billowy, finely-textured feature to the perennial landscape.  It grows into a dense mass, very much like a small shrub.  The cool blue flowers are useful for toning down adjacent flower colors.  The color of the foliage and flowers of blue star blend easily with other plants.  Although the delicate light blue spring flowers are the inspiration for its common name, the autumn color of the feathery leaves is a major reason that gardeners grow it.  The stunning pale pumpkin color of the foliage creates an excellent combination with purple coneflower, gayfeather, and ornamental grasses.  Try a combination of Black Lace elderberry and Arkansas blue star.  The brilliant yellow foliage of amsonia combined with the dark foliage of elderberry is a knockout combination.  Arkansas blue star can be used in sunny borders, cottage plantings, native gardens, and in large container plantings.  The ornamental qualities and many uses make amsonia an invaluable perennial garden plant.  This perennial workhorse provides three splendid seasons of ornamental features.

Amsonia hubrichtii may be propagated by seed, division or softwood cuttings.  The seeds of this perennial germinate very irregularly over a long period.  Softwood cuttings are usually rooted in early summer.  The easiest propagation for gardeners is by division in spring."


Previous Plants of the Week:


Sunny Knock Out Rose
May 17, 2011
Sunny Knock Out Rose (Rosa 'Radsunny') at 251 Mercer St.

Red Ruby Swiss Chard

May 10, 2011
Red Ruby Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris 'Ruby Chard') sidewalk planters on Greene Street between W 4th Street and Washington Place.

Wild Columbine

May 3, 2011
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) at Founders Hall, 120 East 12th St.

Japanese Flowering Cherry

April 25, 2011
Japanese Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata), or 'Kwanzan,' on the Bleecker Street side of Cole Sports Center, 181 Mercer Street.

Saucer Magnolia

April 19, 2011
Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana)   

Daffodil

April 12, 2011
Daffodil (Narcissus spp.) in the sidewalk median at 100 Bleecker Street.

Lenten Rose

April 5, 2011
Lenten Rose (Helleborus x hybridus) in the sidewalk median at 100 Bleecker Street.

Camellia

March 29, 2011
Camellia 'April Remembered' (Camellia japonica 'April Remembered') at Coles Sports Center, 181 Mercer Street.

Japanese Maple

Mar 22, 2011 
Coral Bark Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku') at Glucksman Ireland House

Hamamelis

Mar 18, 2011 
NYU Garden Shop Plant of the Week---Witch-hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) at #2 Washington Square Village Lobby Garden. (interior of Washington Square Village, W 3rd Street jst west of Mercer)

Crocus Species

Mar 8, 2011
Crocus species mix on Bleecker Street side of NYU Coles Sports Center

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NYU Garden Shop Plant of the Week--May 24, 2011

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