Answer: Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) has much to recommend it. In fact, it is the Perennial Plant of the Year for 2011, winning the title because of its three seasons of interest, its low maintenance needs, its drought tolerance and its lack of pests or diseases. It’s also a versatile, flexible design choice—there are many options when it comes to companion plants.
Its light blue spring flowers go well with any other flower color. In spring and summer, its foliage is a light green that contrasts well with darker foliage and rich-hued flowers, and its 3-foot-tall, bushy habit means it a good backdrop for many smaller perennials or annuals—and a good screen for the bases of shrubs.
The fine, feathery texture of its foliage makes it a good match for ornamental grasses and the lacy foliage of Black Lace or Black Beauty elderberry. It can also be paired with large-leaved plants for a good contrast of texture. To repeat, it’s quite versatile!
Arkansas bluestar is prized for its vivid light orange fall foliage color. This goes great with purple coneflowers, tall sedums, mums and asters, which also shine in fall.
Garden writer Nancy Ondra has many fabulous photos of Arkansas bluestar paired with a dozen different plants at all different times of year. See her post “One Plant, Three Seasons: Amsonia hubrichtii.”
Image courtesy of Missouri Botaincal Garden PlantFinder