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'Blue Fortune' produces spikes of powder-blue flowers held over large, deep green foliage. The plant stands approximately 36 inches tall with a mature width of 18 inches. Peak bloom occurs in midsummer when butterflies are plentiful.
Anise hyssop has subtle but eye-catching chartreuse foliage. Its powder-blue, long-lasting flowers contrast nicely with its leaves.
There are many cultivars available of this fast-growing annual. They are best used as bedding, edging, or container plants. Panicles of blue, pink, purple, or white flowerheads arise from oval, downy leaves in midsummer and continue until frost. They have a soft, fuzzy appearance and attract butterflies.
This early, compact bloomer grows to only about 6 or 7 inches tall. With its icy blue-purple flowers, it works well when planted tightly along the foreground of a bed. Its color blends easily with most other hues and textures. -Julia Jones, Designing with annueals, Fine Gardening issue #120
Arkansas blue star's delicate, willow-like foliage is topped with pale blue star-shaped flowers in spring. The light green foliage looks good all summer, turns a beautiful golden-yellow in fall, and can stand through most of the winter, adding interest especially when mixed with grasses and other attractive seedheads. It grows to almost 3 feet tall and wide.
This plant flowers profusely and for an exceptionally long time, from early summer to mid-fall. Its flowers are violet-blue.
This is a short-growing aster with lilac-blue flowers and creeping rootstocks. Many cultivars exist. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
This striking, richly-textured, deciduous ground cover has heart-shaped leaves that turn mauve in autumn. Purple, blue, or white flowers appear in late summer to early fall.
'October Skies' is a dwarf aster that is low to the ground and mounding. It flowers in the fall when most other plants have finished for the season, covering itself with hundreds of dark sky-blue flowers.
Tatarian aster is an impressive, stately perennial with a flowering height of 3 to 6 feet. It can look you in the eye yet require no staking. More important, this aster flowers longer than any other garden aster, beginning in late September and early October and continuing into November. The 1-inch-wide, light lavender flowers are a magnet for local and migrating monarch butterflies. This plant tolerates many soil types, can form large colonies in a few years, and is easily divided.
This is a mat-forming aster with thick, almost leafless stems that support solitary, violet-blue ray florets and orange-yellow disk florets.
False blue indigo's spikes of clear blue flowers in late spring can nearly carry a border by themselves. They also make great cut flowers. Large, inflated nearly black seed pods set in after flowering, giving this plant another interesting element. It is low maintenance and will look great in any natural or informal setting.
These fast-growing plants with succulent, bristly stems are old-fashioned favorites of the border or herb garden. They self sow to produce a succession throughout the season of new plants and blossoms. The beautiful flowers are edible and are particularly bequiling on salad or floating in summer drinks.
Butterfly bushes are carefree deciduous shrubs that are reliably fragrant and easy to grow. Butterflies swarm to their blooms all summer long. 'Lochinch' has extremely fragrant lilac-blue flowers with orange eyes. It is a cross between B. davidii and B. fallowiana. Its arching, mounded habit typically reaches 3 to 5 feet in one season, but can grow much taller in the deep South. The 8- to 12-inch-long flower spikes begin in late summer and bloom until frost, starting a little later than the B. davidii cultivars.
Butterfly bushes are carefree deciduous shrubs that are reliably fragrant and easy to grow. Butterflies swarm to their blooms all summer long. 'Black Knight' has deep purple-blue, almost black, flowers in elongated clusters on arching branches to 10 feet tall if not cut back, and half that size if cut back. The blooms come from early summer to first frost. The foliage is willow-like and grayish green.
'First Choice' is ideal for a mixed or shrub border. It's an attractive woody shrub with dark green leaves, dark purplish blue flowers, and a compact habit. Misty blue flowers appear in late summer and early autumn.This plant is relatively drought tolerant and very heat tolerant. The shrub expands as branches that touch the ground form their own roots and may self-seed.
'Worcester Gold' is an attractive, mounding, woody shrub with warm yellow to chartreuse foliage and lavender-blue flowers in late summer and early autumn. The flowers are fragrant and attractive to bees and butterflies. The foliage is also aromatic. It is ideal for a mixed or shrub border.
'Jason' has bright yellow-green foliage with rich amethyst blue flowers in late summer and fall. It's a vigorous grower for a mixed border or mass planting in sunny areas.
Throughout the summer, 'Mystic Spires Blue' produces long stalks of dark blue flowers, which continue to reward in abundance when deadheaded. Refresh tired plants in midsummer by cutting them back by half. This cultivar makes an excellent bedding or container plant.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears abundant pure blue flower spikes in early summer and until fall if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 20 inches tall by 18 inches wide, with wrinkled, softly hairy leaves.
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Skip the finicky selections and go for these unique yet reliable beauties
by Maureen Gilmer
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Use plant combinations that focus on complementary colors, textures, and forms
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by Nancy Matthews
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