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Liatris - Blazing Stars

About 40 species native from the Eastern 2/3rds of North America. They hybridize freely so there are many populations of hybrid origin that complicates identification of plants. All have perfect flowers that are tubular shaped in discoid heads. The heads can be in button like clusters spaced out along the spike shaped stems or they can be crowded together appearing as one long spike. The flowers are different shades of rosy purple with white forms common too, blooming from the top of the “spike” downward. All are perennial herbs with corms or a few species having a caudex to rhizome like under ground stems that give rise to many, to as few as one stem(s) with long, entire shaped thin (grassy like) leaves that are arranged alternately up the stems.

Plants bloom mid to late summer and are loved by butterflies. The different forms of L. spicta plus many of the species make very nice garden plants, growing in full sun to part shade. In the “wild” they grow in grassy areas to open stony soiled forests. They also make good cutting material for fresh cut or dried flower displays. Plants grow best in well draining heavy loam soils with moderate fertility. The corms or rootstocks are loved by mice and voles. They can also be cut into pieces to grow new plants. Self seeding is common in the garden on open ground and in crevices and cracks. Plants will bloom the second or third year from sowing. Plants are slow growing the first year from seed, and most of the energy goes into forming the corms. Seed germination is variable from one species to another, and dependent on the age of the seed, fresh seed having stronger dormancy than aged seed. Many species have seed dormancy that needs an 8 to 12 weeks of cold moist conditioning to break. The L.spicata forms have been selected for quicker germination, not needing the cold period for seed germination, but germination is still spread-out over many weeks. Seeds are good to medium sized and it can be helpful to soak the seeds in hot water for 24 hours before sowing. Sowing the seeds in trays works well, and plants can be left in the trays for a year or two if need be, and plants removed as you are ready to plant them out. Over winter the trays out side, keep them dry and bait against voles, and use a dry winter mulch.

Code Name Image Price  
LIA1-A7 Liatris pycnostachya   $2.00
2841-A3 Liatris spicata   $2.65
LSFV-A3 Liatris spicata 'Floristan Violet'   $1.95
LSK7-A9 Liatris spicata 'Kobold'   $2.00