All About Liatris

Your Guide to Planning, Planting, and Growing Liatris

Liatris is a summer-blooming perennial with grassy foliage and fuzzy, bottle-brush flowers. Commonly known as blazing star or gayfeather, this North American wildflower makes an attractive addition to flower gardens, cutting gardens, landscaped areas and informal plantings. The distinctive flower spikes stand 2 to 4-feet-tall and are magnets for butterflies.

Start with a Better Plant

Liatris grows from a bulb-like corm. Longfield Gardens supplies large, grade #1 corms (shown far left) that grow into healthy plants with strong root systems. 

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Plan for Success

Sun and Shade:  Liatris grows best in full sun, though the plants will also tolerate some shade.

Zone:  Liatris is winter hardy in zones 3-8. Not sure about your hardiness zone? Check the USDA zone map here.

When to Plant:  Liatris corms are planted in spring, when the weather is cool and it's easy for the young plants to get established. Flowers usually appear the first year, approximately 70 to 90 days after planting, and the plants will return to bloom again for years to come.

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Where to Plant Liatris

Liatris grow wild in meadows and prairies throughout many parts of the U.S. Though the plants prefer well-drained soil, they will tolerate more moisture than many other garden perennials, so are often included in rain gardens.

Liatris can be an eye-catching addition to flower gardens. Their stately, wand-like flowers bloom in mid to late summer. Flower color is typically amethyst-purple, though there are also cultivars with pink or white flowers. Liatris are good cut flowers, and look wonderful in a vase with dahlias, zinnias and other summer blooms. 

Because they are native plants, liatris are vigorous enough to hold their own when planted in a meadow or other natural area. The flowers attract a wide range of butterfly species, and this makes liatris a must for butterfly gardens. You'll find it's a good companion for ornamental grasses, and looks especially attractive planted in large sweeps or drifts.

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How to Plant Liatris

The corms may be planted individually or you can dig a larger hole and plant several bulbs at the same time.

Loosen the soil to a depth of 6-8” and dig a 3"-deep hole.

Position the corm(s) in the hole, smooth side down, sprouts facing up. Space the corms about 5" apart on center.

Cover and add water if the soil is dry.

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What to Expect

Liatris are tough plants, but if the weather is very dry, the newly planted corms should be watered weekly to help them establish a strong root system. As with all bulbs, avoid over-watering.

After the first couple months, liatris will need little to no attention. The plants are relatively drought tolerant, naturally pest and disease resistant, and deer usually ignore them.

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Caring for Liatris after they Flower

When liatris have finished blooming, the flower stalks may be cut off at the base of the plant. That said, the flowers provide vertical interest even after their color has faded. Feel free to leave them standing -- especially in naturalistic plantings.

Give your butterfly friends a treat by planting liatris! The corms are available for spring planting from March-May. To shop, click HERE.

To learn more about butterfly gardening, you may be interested in reading: How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden.

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