Amsonia hubrichtii has the common name Bluestar or Threadleaf
Bluestar. It is a hardy, long-lived perennial native to Arkansas, Oklahoma and
This Amsonia has lovely, feathery foliage that adds a unique,
billowy texture to the garden. It blooms in spring with light blue, star-like
flowers – but this plant really shines in the fall with brilliant golden-yellow
Amsonia hubrichtii is easy to grow in average, well-drained
soil . With time it can grow quite large, 3-4 feet tall and wide with a shrub-like
appearance. This perennial starts slow
and may need a couple years to fill out but once established it is hardy, dependable
and rarely needs division. A polite grower, it does not spread by rhizomes and
is not known to aggressively self-seed. Amsonia hubrichtii is deer and rabbit
resistant and has no serious pests or diseases.
The flowering and fall color is best in full sun, but it
will tolerate some shade. If grown in
too much shade or very rich soil, its habit will be open and floppy. Cutting it
back about 6 inches after blooming will help prevent flopping.
Rudbeckia laciniata is commonly known as cut leaf coneflower or green headed coneflower. It is a stately native perennial that can reach 9 feet tall under the right conditions but generally grows 5-7 feet tall. Its preferred location is full to part sun in moist soil. It naturally occurs in moist woodland clearings or along stream beds. It is adaptable to average garden soil, but may wilt during periods of drought without supplemental water.
Like many plants, there are both pros and cons to adding Rudbeckia
laciniata to your garden.
On the positive side, this rudbeckia provides plenty of
sunny flowers and has a long 2 month bloom time – July through September. The size and bright coloration of this plant creates
a strong accent in the garden at a time when some other perennials are starting
The flowers are attractive to bees (both native and domesticated) and butterflies, providing a late season nectar source. They have attractive seed heads and the flower seeds provide food for finches in the fall. This coneflower is generally pest and disease resistant and can handle hot, humid summer weather. It is considered deer and rabbit resistant.
Because of its tolerance for moist soil and periodic
flooding, it is a good plant for flood prone areas or rain gardens. Given
space, it can create a (very tall!) groundcover. The root structure provides
good erosion control.
However (here come the cons), in moist sunny areas this
coneflower can spread somewhat aggressively by underground rhizomes. Plants
should be edged or divided in spring to control the spread.
In fertile soils, more shade or windy areas the plants will
probably need staking to keep it upright.
While the plants will probably survive drought, the lower
leaves will droop and brown. Drought stress can occasionally result in powdery
If you can give this plant a bit of moisture and some room
to grow, it might be a great addition to a pollinator friendly landscape.
Echinacea purpurea has the common name Purple cone
flower. It is a lovely herbaceous
perennial that is native to eastern North America. Its showy blossoms usually
appear in late June to early July and can rebloom through August. The blooms are
very attractive to bees and butterflies making Echinacea a great addition to a
pollinator friendly garden. Gold finches
will also visit the flower heads as they ripen to eat the seeds.
Echinacea grows best in full sun, but will take some shade.
It requires well drained soil and is tolerant of drought and poor soil. It grows
2 to 5 feet tall depending on the cultivar and for the most part is self-supporting,
but may need some support if grown in rich soil or too much shade.
Echinacea generally will continue to bloom whether spent
blossoms are removed or not, but removing spent blossoms early in the season
may make the plant look more tidy. Consider leaving some spent blossom seed heads
over the winter as a food source for birds, but be prepared for some self-seeding
around the base of the plant. I consider
this a bonus, and simply move the volunteer seedlings where I want them in the
spring. Echinacea is also used as an herbal supplement to boost the immune
While called purple coneflower, the common version is more
of a pinkish-purple and it has been hybridized into a variety of different
colors including white, yellow, orange, red and even bi-colors. Some varieties
are quite fragrant.
There are also coneflowers that have been hybridized with
double or triple the petals to create a “pom-pom” effect, but note that these
doubles and triples are not useful to pollinators because the hybridization
process eliminates nectar sources. These
hybrids are also mainly sterile, so they do not provide seeds for birds.
Echinacea can be susceptible Aster Yellows. This is a disease
caused by infection by a microorganism called a phytoplasma. The infected plant’s
flowers will remain green and the cones will be distorted with leaf like
projections. The disease can be spread from an infected
plant to a healthy one by leafhopper insects as they feed on different plants
so it is important to remove any infected plants you find. There is no cure for
Echinacea are sometimes bothered by Japanese beetle which
chew the flower petals but they usually out-grow “beetle season” and continue
Want a little more information on Echinacea? Here are some