Liatris – Blazing Star

Fri. Nov. 10, 2017

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Liatris – Blazing Star!

This Spring I planted a butterfly garden.  I bought 48 plants from my local Soil and Water Conservation District and was thrilled with how well they took, especially considering their small size and great price!  One of the plants in my native garden is Liatris.  This marvelous pollinator plant is also called Blazing Star or Gayfeather.

It’s tough, it’s dependable and, among it’s species, is a monarch magnet!  Yes, the monarch butterfly which favors milkweed, also adores Meadow Blazing Star Liatris ligulistylis.  Prairie Nursery is a native garden nursery.

Meadow Blazing Star

Northern Gardener Magazine has a fantastic article that includes favorites of writer, Rhonda Hayes.  She includes the one I have in my butterfly garden, Rough (or Button) Blazing Star.  It is hardy to zone 3 and grows to 3 feet tall in medium to dry soil.  It’s great for a cut flower bouquet but it’s so loaded with pollinators that I hate to disturb them!

While I bought small plants, Liatris can be grown from seed, corms or bareroot too.  If growing a prairie, seed is your cheapest option but it will take at least a year to see flowers.  Corms are like flat bulbs and are planted in the Spring.  Bareroot can be planted in Spring or Fall.  Check out your local nurseries.  There are a number of native plant growers in the Upper Midwest.  This is a list of native plant nurseries in Wisconsin.  Also more information on liatris from the Univ. of WI Ext.  (while MN and WI have border battles, our plants are relatively the same! 😉 )

If you’re into xeriscaping, which is landscaping with plants that need little water, then the Dotted Blazing star is for you, due to it’s deep root system.  That also means it probably isn’t one to be moved.  “Dotted” grows to just 2 feet tall.

dotted blazing star

By the way, all liatris are shades of purple and the small flowers bloom profusely on spires.  (yes, they look very close to the exact same plant, but they’re not!)

The Dense Blazing Star is the tallest of the species, growing to 5 feet.  It prefers wet to medium soil.  There is a cultivar of this species that grows 18 to 24 inches.  There’s also a white version called ‘Floristan White’.  Floristan isn’t easy to find.  You’ll likely have to order it out of state.

Liatris spicata ‘Floristan White’