Amsonia 'Blue Ice' 

Blue Ice blue stars    Perennial of the Month-- May 2015 Perry caricature

 (pronunciation at link)  (am-so’ni-a)

Common name: Blue Ice bluestars

Family:   Apocynaceae, Dogbane

Height x width: 12-18in. x 18-24in

Growth rate, habit: moderate, upright compact (more so than parent species, see below)

Foliage: willow-shaped, dark green, golden yellow fall, best in full sun

Flowers:  dark lavender-blue star-shaped flowers 3/4-inch wide, in clusters on ends of stems, flowers darker blue than parent species (below); late spring to early summer (north); flowers last longest in warm climates if in part shade

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9 (zone map)

Soil: average, prefers moist but drought tolerant once established

Light:  full sun to part shade (4-6 hours direct sun)

Pests and problems:  too much shade or too fertile soil leads to stems flopping over

Landscape habit, uses:   border, rock garden, slopes, native plant or woodland (edge) garden, cottage garden; best used in groups or masses; combines well with black-leaved coralbells, purple-leaved sedums, Russian sage, caryopteris, hibiscus, purple-dome aster

Other interest: arose as a seedling reportedly from the native tabernaemontana but possibly with montana or orientalis parents too, found at Connecticut's Sunny Border Nursery and introduced by White Flower Farm; deer resistant; genus is named for the 18th century Virginia physician Dr. Charles Amson

Other culture:  spring division only if needed (6 years or more)

Propagation:  civision, early summer stem cuttings after flowering

Sources:  many online and local specialty nurseries

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