Liatris spicata (Blazing Star, Blazingstar, Gayfeather) a native known to many here in the Eastern US. This perennial can be grown in zones 3-8 and is tolerant of the heat and humidity here in the south (where it is a native). The purple spikes of flowers attract bees and butterflies to the garden and will not disappoint. It loves to grow in most soil and but will not tolerate wet soil especially in winter. I mix this native in tight with my other perennials such as Coneflowers, Iris, and even Salvia so that if the Liatris decides to grow past the 4′ mark and start to fall over the other plants help keep it upright (or you could stake it up). Yes, Liatris can grow from about a foot and a half tall to over four foot here in zone 7. I have had one patch of Liatris, which was growing in better soil, reach a height of 5′ a few years ago after a mild winter.
The bloom time is from July through August with blooms that start from the top and slowly open downward. In most gardens the flower is purple but there are pink and white ones too but they are not as common. What I find interesting is that Liatris is related to the Aster. Whatever you call this tall spiky beauty it will grow in full sun and part sun here in warmer climates.
Liatris grows from corms which can easily be divided (the bulb like root structure that stores the food for the plant through the winter). Dividing the corms is the simplest way to grow Liatris. However, with patience, you could grow from seed. The Liatris will not spread as fast in clay soil (such as what I have here in Virginia) but in loamy or sandy soil these beauties will most likely need to be divided every few years. I love this beauty in my garden because the leaves add some interest before they bloom. For me, since I am a messy gardener, I plant Liatris in with other perennials because I do not like when you have a big clump of flowers and no blooms. Plus I have found that Liatris just does not look good by itself in my garden because it falls over and gets trampled by the dogs. Some gardeners like their flowers in color blocks and groups, me, well, I am all about the fullness and the look of leaves mingling together of different shapes and colors of green. I guess some would say I cram and that is okay because gardening is not about the rules- gardening is about how we feel and work with nature.
So next time you see the corms of Liatris or Blazing Star in the those cheap little garden catalogs or in the bags at the big box stores, by some! Remember to be patient because it takes them a couple years to reach their potential. Happy Gardening!
Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!
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