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Blue dogbane flowersBlue Dogbane (Amsonia tabernaemontana) Info

This Saturn perennial gets 2-3 feet high and tends to grow in a clump. The fuzzy blue blooms appear in spring.   This plant will be floppier in the shade or in rich soil and for this reason is sometimes called the willow amsonia.  Its leaves usually turn yellow or chartreuse in the fall.  Once it is germinated, it is easy to grow, because it is seldom bothered by bugs.   It blooms in spring, and the buds are especially blue.  This deer resistant plant makes a good cut flower; just sear the base of the stem by dipping in hot water or running through a candle flame after cutting.  The latex of this plant can irritate the skin of sensitive people. The plant has a reputation for being medicinal, but I was not able to find any information on its medicinal use.  Most of the dogbanes are toxic, and that fact together with its smallish, pale flowers and love of the shady, moist woodlands show its strong Saturn nature. top

How to Grow Blue Dogbane

Like many wild plants, blue dogbane germinates irregularly. This is a great help in the wild, where if two seedlings are knocked out by frost, eight more will take their place, but it can try the patience of a gardener. Start this plant indoors 2-3 months prior to last spring frost. Sow seed between layers of moist paper towels and place inside a sandwich baggie. Place baggie in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator in 6-8 weeks. Move to a location at 70F (room temperature). Germination should begin in 3-4 weeks. As the seed begins forming a root, remove it from the baggie and pot up in individual containers. Be very careful to handle the sprout by the seed end rather than the root end. Poke a tiny hole in the peat, slide the root halfway in, and gently press the soil against the root. Or sow on Winter Solstice (see the Solstice Sowing page). Plant out in a semishady area in rich, moist soil, as would be found in a woodland. Or just plant outside in fall. It can take 2-3 years to flower but is worth the wait. Cut back to the crown when the plant dies back in winter. This plant will self-sow when it is happy. A native to the southeastern US, blue dogbane likes full sun to partial shade and dry to moist soil but can't take the far north (like the Canadian border). It benefits from pruning. General growing info. top

 

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2004, 2014 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any kind without permission