Simply The Best Natives-Common Bluestar


“May our heart’s garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.”  ~Thich Nhat Hanh



It has been a glorious spring these past 5 days.  Weather warmed to the upper 60s, and this gardener has been ecstatic!  We started our back-breaking projects, and I’ll have more on those next week.  Now I’d like to profile a favorite native plant that should be showing up soon.  

When the spring garden blooms in later April and May, I look forward to seeing a very special native perennial shout out, ‘Look at me’ with its light blue star-shaped flowers.  Of course I am talking about my native AmsoniaAmsonia tabernaemontana.  Part of the Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae), you might know it by one of its common names:  Common bluestar, Eastern bluestar, Blue dogbane, Willow amsonia, Woodland bluestar.

Common bluestar grows from 1-3 ft., with dark green, narrow leaves, from US Zone 4 to 9.  You can find this native plant through out the Eastern US from New York to Florida and throughout the south to Texas and Oklahoma.  Native habitats include wet rocky open woodlands, thickets, rocky ravines, stream banks, wet prairies and moist sandy meadows.

amandaAs I profile this wonderful native plant, I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme, and Diana@Elephant’s Eye at False Bay for her Dozen for Diana monthly meme. And I am joining forces once again this year with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to buy native plants for my garden.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.  Check out their Spring 2016 catalog.




Growing Conditions

DSCN8233Common bluestar loves sun and light shade.  The more sun it gets, the more it will flower.  This native also loves moisture, and even wet conditions, which is perfect for my back gardens which are usually very moist throughout spring.  It will tolerate some drought once established.  And who couldn’t love a plant that is long-lived, and tolerates so many soils; clay, loam, sandy or rocky soil.  

The only drawback of growing this plant in shadier conditions is that it might need staking.  It also has no disease or insect problems.  

Common bluestar spreads by reseeding, but I have yet to see any of mine spreading, and at least one is 5 years old.  It is situated near the Obedient plant so it is competing with that aggressive plant, and will likely need be moved.  Amsonia will germinate from seed quickly and flower in its second year.  If you don’t want your Amsonia to reseed, then cut it back once it is done flowering.




Benefits to Wildlife 

The nectar of the flowers are said to attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, although I have not noticed any buzzing about my Bluestar.

Many insects also enjoy the nectar of Common bluestar, especially long-tongued insects such as Carpenter Bees, Hummingbird moths and butterflies.  The Coral Hairstreak butterfly (Satyrium titus) is one such butterfly that enjoys plants like this from the Dogbane family.

Due to the somewhat toxic nature of this plant’s sap, insect pests, and mammals tend to stay away from this plant, making it a great rabbit and deer resistant plant.  The sap is not harmful to humans.





DSCN4155Common bluestar makes a wonderful display massed in native plant gardens, light shade gardens, cottage gardens, open woodland areas, meadows and in rain gardens.  I am hoping once mine grow a bit more, they will spread, and I can move some around possibly into the meadow.
Another plus for this plant is its wonderful golden foliage display in the fall.
They are also said to be a great cut flower so I will try a few in a vase this year.



Folklore and Tales 

DSCN4159Amsonia is named in honor of the 18th-century Virginian physician Dr. Charles Amson.  The species name is said to celebrate the 16th-century German herbalist Jakobus Theodorus Tabernaemontanus. 

This wildflower is listed in The Wild Flowers of America, 1879.  Quite a long history for this plant.

Western Native Americans used their native Amsonia to treat rattlesnake bites.  I could not find uses, for my particular Amsonia, by Native Americans.

Amsonia tabernaemontana was named as one of the 75 Great Plants for American Gardens by the American Horticultural Society.  After a few years in my garden, I would have to agree.





amsonia collage


Do you grow Amsonia?  What is your favorite blue perennial?





In A Vase On Monday 




I was so tired from working on garden projects for 4 days, that by Sunday I had little strength left in my legs and back.  So I picked several yellow trumpet daffodils, cut them to various lengths, and plunked them in a springtime vase.  




daff vase collage

My Irish china vase, with the shamrocks beautifully painted on it, was placed outside on the corner of a back garden bed.  There are red raspberry colored blooms of Pulmonaria surrounding it.  A perfect spot.  

I hope next week to have a vase that takes a bit more thought, and uses many of the blooms we have throughout the garden now.  But you can bet I will be using daffs for weeks to come, even though many are bent, browned and frost bitten.  I want to use them before they fade, as our weather went from barely spring to late spring temps in the 70s.


I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare this vase:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles 2016 and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.



Next up on the blog:  

Monday brings a look at the latest happenings in the veg garden.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her blog, Rambling Woods.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Monday. 

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2016.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 

80 Replies to “Simply The Best Natives-Common Bluestar”

  1. How nice daffodils, Donna! I wait for mines I think next week I will have a vase like yours.
    Amsonia is very rare plant here, but if you write it grows in zone 4 so I could try to grow it too. I liked this silvery color.

    1. I wish you luck if you grow Amsonia…..and I am looking forward to seeing some daffodils growing in your garden soon!

  2. Amsonia are stunning perennials, I like the star-shaped, blue flowers. Couldn’t find them anywhere near me but I keep trying. The sun is shining in your vase, Donna, just delightful 🙂

  3. I was in Albany this past weekend for a meeting, so spent nearly all my time in a hotel conference room. I wish there had been more time for getting out and about, as the weather was terrific and I would have loved to explore a bit.

  4. Hello, the daffies in the vase are pretty. I lvoe the cute vase with the shamrocks. Thank you for the info on the common bluestar. Lovely images and post. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  5. Hope spring slows down so you can enjoy it Donna. Will look for Amsonia to try here. Narcissus is great in a vase with little fuss–just sings out joy.

    1. Such a crazy month Susie…one of those where some flowers are blooming and some are not…so will enjoy those that made it through. Glad you enjoyed the daffodils.

  6. Your Amsonia is great looking – and a totally new plant for me. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Four straight days of gardening – you are my hero! Way to jump in Donna. I love Bluestar. I have a nice drift established and beneath it Creeping Jenny. The bright lime of the Creeping Jenny really sets off those blue blooms! I wish I could say I planned it that way but it was by pure chance, ha ha. I also grow Amsonia hubrichtii but it hasn’t established itself as well as the native Bluestar in my thug of a garden. I just love its ferny leaves which also turn a nice shade of gold in the Fall. Great native spotlight! I also highly recommend our native Bluestar!

    1. I certainly paid for all that gardening…took some time off and then back at it just a little…..we will be back at the projects this weekend.

      I bet your Amsonia and Jenny are splendid. I could never get Amsonia hubrichtii to establish either.

  8. Such quick changing weather – and it’s not surprising you are ecstatic! Your native blue star is a very pretty resident – and I had to smile at the simple pleasure of your sunny daffodils after all your hard work! Thanks for sharing

    1. Sometimes the simple things make the best vases….the garden is having a hard time with our weather shifts….but it always pays us back with something lovely.

  9. What a nice change to be able to enjoy the warm outdoors dressed in our gardening clothes ! Like you I have been out doing my spring cleaning. I have a couple of amsonias and always look forward to seeing them. My daffs aren’t up yet and so I am envious of your lovely display.

  10. Love the simplicity in the vase. I used to grow Amsonia in my garden further north, it was a great addition and I enjoyed the fall color as well as the blue flowers.

  11. So your snow has gone at last and you are catching up, marvellous, I am so glad. Those first gardening sessions in the spring are agony for the body.
    There is nothing as cheery as a bunch of daffodils.
    I do grow Amsonia and it is very pretty. I just wish the blooms weren’ t so fleeting.

  12. I love the cheerful daffodils, Donna! You don’t see Amsonia in the garden centers here but I’ve been tempted to try A. hubrichtii, as I love those blue flowers and it appears to be less thirsty than some other species. Agapanthus are the most reliable blue-flowered perennials here.

  13. I’m glad your daffodils survived all the cold, Donna, I am always impressed with the stiff and ruffled trumpets made out of such delicate material. I tried Amsonia but either it wants more shade or it’s just that the east coast wildflowers I admire don’t like our rain-free west coast summers, it has stayed tiny and not bloomed…

    1. Mine are all in part sun to full spring sun before the leaves fully leaf out, so I would say it definitely needs lots more moisture to grow Hannah.

  14. So many interesting aspects to observe in your garden!! Amsonia is so pretty and daffodils, in collage, are so lovely! April has a lot to offer!
    Warm greetings!

  15. My Amsonia is in an out-of-the-way spot, where I don’t fully appreciate it as I should. My favorite blue flower is Monkshood. I’m watching the newly planted one in my back garden with great anticipation.

  16. Oh, I have never even heard of this one! Very pretty! And daffodils in a vase is pretty too, no matter whether it requires little or much thought 🙂 Enjoy your warm weather Donna, it’s coming our way too finally – for a few days.

    1. Glad to hear your weather is warming too Helene…time for more work in the garden…off to do a few more projects!

  17. I don’t have Amsonia yet, but I’m planning to add A. hubrichtii. I planted some seeds from a friend’s plant last fall, but I don’t know if they’ll take. If not, I’ll start with plants. I love the blue on your species and hubrichtii. The flowers are very similar.

  18. Donna, your Amsonia intrigues me, and I am just now, trying to bring some sense of purpose into my gardens. After years of saying that I live in the woods, and it is not my intention to garden, I am turning a new page. I think I will hunt up Amsonia and let those “stars” shine! Thanks for your lovely post!

  19. Thanks for highlighting this lovely native! I have never grown it, but it seems it should do OK in my climate. It is a beautiful color. I will be looking for it in my local nursery so I can add it to my garden. I think I may combine it with asclepias if I find it.

    1. I bet it would look great in your garden Deb! And I like the idea of combining it with asclepias which gives me an idea, as I have to move some of mine!

  20. As my garden moves relentlessly into early summer I was almost shocked to see your lovely daffodils, they seem a flower of winter to me! But I love them so their jolly presence made me smile. Don’t do too much Donna.

    1. I bet it does seem strange to see daffs blooming, and for me it is strange they are blooming all at once along with hyacinths….but not much else is blooming right now. But with new rain and warmth, I hope the garden gets going.

  21. Very interesting to learn about the blue star. A real pretty flower. Loved the daffodils in the vase too. Thanks for sharing with Today’s Flowers Donna and have a great week 🙂

  22. Donna, I’m so glad you shared the information about amsonia — I have one, but wasn’t aware that it likes moist soil, so I might move mine to make it happier. And I think simple arrangements are usually the loveliest, allowing the honest beauty of the flowers to shine — especially in such a pretty vase! Thanks for sharing and hope your spring is full of blooms. -Beth

  23. This lovely weather is calling us all outside, so my computer time has been drastically reduced. Thanks for the info on the bluestar. it doesn’t grow in my garden but I’ll be on the lookout for it.

  24. This is a wonderful plant, I have a lot of it. I’ve noticed if you cut it back hard after it blooms the new foliage grows in with a very light yellow-green color.

  25. I have two huge amsonias (I had three, but I gave one to a friend long ago. I tried to give her a division and it was so tough to cut through, I just gave her the whole root ball!) Great sturdy plant and I love the fall color.
    Things are finally moving along in the gardens and maybe next week there’ll be something worth posting!

  26. Oh yes, I love my amsonia in the blue and yellow garden on the south side. As a matter of fact I saw little buds breaking the surface today when I was out tidying and throwing some compost around.

  27. Your daffodils are so pretty. I don’t have amsonia but I’m going to check it out for my yard. Thanks for your information.

  28. One of my favorite spring bloomers! I remember first seeing this plant at the Lurie Gardens in Chicago along with Baptisia. I vowed then I had to have both in my garden. The only advice I would give about Amsonia is to plant it where you want it to stay–I dug mine up and transplanted it once, not realizing it had such a long taproot. I finally got it out and was able to divide it, but I’ll never do that again!

    1. Good to know about transplanting Rose. I have to transplant a couple of small ones so i will see how hard they are before I attempt to move my medium size one.

  29. I grow A. tabernaemontana and hubrichtii. Hubbrichtii is delightfully fragrant and has beautiful yellow fall color. It took me a while to see what the fuss was about concerning Amsonia but now I’ve seen the light. Very carefree too and deer don’t eat it!

  30. Beautiful Blue Star! And the Daffodils – such a deep, rich, yellow – lovely!
    I have a blue wildflower for this Wildflower Wednesday, but I don’t know its name.
    Have a wonderful day!

  31. I have quite a bit of Amsonia in the garden as it spreads quite well. One thing about this plant, it gets dug up by gardeners often because it is so late to arrive in our cold climate. Patience is needed because it reliably returns each year.

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