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Dogbane

In my Midwestern garden amsonia's yellow foliage (not shown in this picture) is a welcome accent in the late autumn landscape.

Amsonia tabernaemontana.

Amsonia species are perennials or sub-shrubs, and there are about 20 species in this genus.

While the small, star-shaped, late spring to summer flowers are quite pretty, they don’t last long, and it’s the brilliant yellow fall foliage that makes most gardeners want to grow one of the amsonias.

A common name is dogbane. There are three that are native to North America and that are recommended for home gardens:

  1.  A. ciliata grows one to three feet tall and forms one-foot wide clumps. It has attractive thread-like leaves that turn yellow in autumn, as well as pale blue tiny half-inch early summer flowers.
    It and A.hubrectii both do well in zones 5 to 9.
  2.  A. hubrectii is two to three feet tall and forms clumps that are three- to four-feet wide. It has very narrow leaves that look a little like a willow, and they turn a golden yellow in the fall. Its blooms are larger, about two to three inches wide and a very pale blue in summer.
  3. The amsonia with the widest range grows in zones 3 to 9 and is native to the eastern United States. It has the longest name, tabernaemontana, which trips endlessly off the tongue. It forms two- to three-feet wide clumps, tiny blue spring blooms and has lance-shaped leaves that turn buttery yellow each fall.

All amsonias like moist soil.

In my Midwestern garden the yellow foliage is a welcome accent in the late autumn landscape.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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