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Liatris (lee-AH-tris)

Common Name:  Gayfeather, blazing star

Light:  - Full sun to part shade

Soil:  Average to rich, moist but well-drained

Moisture:  Average to slightly moist but dry at the surface

Blooms:  Summer

Zones:  4 - 8


Liatris 'Floristan Violet'

Liatris 'Kobold'

Liatris Description and Cultural Information

There are several species of liatris that are all North American natives. They produce tall spikes of small purple button-like flower clusters that bloom from the top of the spikes down. Liatris spicata is the most common species available on the perennial market.

Liatris spicata, spike gayfeather, blazing star. 2 - 3'. These plants produce dense spikes of flowers on leafy stems above a base of grass-like foliage. 'Floristan White' has creamy white flowers and 'Floristan Violet' is a purple selection similar to the species. 'Kobold' is shorter and more compact, usually growing about 12 to 18" with violet-purple flowers, however because 'Kobold' is often grown by seed the height from plant to plant may vary.

How to Grow:  Liatris is grown from a corm which should be planted with the top right at the surface, just barely covered with soil. They prefer average to rich, moist but well-drained soil in full sun to light shade. Plants benefit from a deep watering and constanly moist conditions at the root zone but the bulbs themselves will not tolerate standing water so the surface should stay relatively dry. Because of this they are relatively tolerant of clay soil, provided you build up some good soil above the clay and plant the bulbs at the surface. Once established they are somewhat drought tolerant but don't bloom well when it is very dry. They often self-sow, producing little seedlings that look like blades of grass, and seedlings will take a couple years to bloom. Division can be done in spring or fall.

Landscape uses:  Liatris makes a wonderful addition to the sunny perennial garden and the cut flower garden. Combine them with other summer blooming plants such as shasta daisies, garden phlox, Echinacea, lilies, Platycodon (balloon flower) and Rudbeckia.

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