Liatris comes in several varieties, with Blazing Star and Gayfeather as common varieties grown by the home gardener. A perennial, liatris reaches heights between one and five feet tall. Small purple flowers adorn the tall flower spikes. The blooms first open near the top of the stalk, then continue to blossom all the way down. Liatris is usually grown from root sections called corms, but planting seeds is possible, though there will be no flowers until the second year after planting.
Choose a well-drained, rich garden bed in preferably full sun, though some shade is acceptable. Work compost into the soil to raise the bed one to three inches, which aids drainage and soil quality.
Sow the seeds outdoors in the fall eight weeks before the first frost date for your area. Place the seeds on the soil surface, spacing each plant 10 to 12 inches apart. Cover lightly with a ¼-inch layer of soil.
Water until the soil is moist. Use a mister wand on the hose when watering to avoid washing away the seeds. Stop watering once the ground begins to freeze.
Apply a two-to-three inch layer of organic mulch such as wood chips or straw. This preserves soil moisture, maintains soil temperature and helps control weeds.
Resume watering in spring once the ground thaws and as shoots begin showing. Water from the base of the plants, allowing the top layer to dry slightly between waterings.
Fertilize with a balanced liquid fertilizer in spring and again in summer the first year. Beginning the second year, fertilize once in summer after the liatris stops blooming.
Things You Will Need
- Mister wand
- Allow liatris to go to seed each year to attract goldfinches and to help self seed the flowers.
- Liatris can also be started in indoor pots and moved outside the second year.
- Overly wet or soggy soil will cause the liatris roots to rot, killing the plants.
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