These elegant milkweed relatives are native to the South. Plants grow 23 ft. high and wide, with narrow leaves and erect stems crowned by clusters of small, star-shaped blue flowers in late spring. They are among the best perennials for fall colorfoliage turns bright yellow in autumn. All are tough plants that succeed in ordinary soil. They tolerate some drought and suffer from few pests. Deer don't eat them.
A. ciliata. NARROWLEAF BLUESTAR. From southeastern U.S. Leaves narrower than those of A. tabernaemontana, wider than those of A. hubrichtii. Rich blue flowers; good fall leaf color.
A. hubrichtii. HUBRICHT'S BLUESTAR. Soft leaves are very narrow, almost needlelike. Discovered in Arkansas in 1942 by Leslie Hubricht and considered by many to be the finest of bluestars. It forms a clump to 3 ft. tall and wide; blossoms are sky-blue. Fall foliage is an exceptionally bright, clear gold.
A. illustris. SHINING BLUESTAR. Native to Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. Leathery, shiny, willowlike leaves; pale blue blossoms.
A. ludoviciana. LOUISIANA BLUESTAR. Rare bluestar native to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Backs of leaves are coated with a soft felt. Light blue flowers.
A. rigida. STIFF BLUESTAR. Compact species native to Florida and Georgia. Grows 1122 ft. high. Light blue flowers are held atop firm stems. Both leaves and stems are smoky purple when new.
A. tabernaemontana. BLUESTAR. Native to the Southeast, this is the most commercially available species. It has dull, dark green, willowlike leaves and slate- blue flowers. Two selections with deep blue blossoms are 'Blue Ice', a compact grower to 15 in. tall and 2 ft. wide, and 'Louisiana Dwarf', to 112 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide. 'Purple' has showy purple blooms.