The Blazing Stars are about to bloom. The hundred of small flowers blooming up and down the tall spikes are very popular with the bees. Butterflies like the nectar, too. Birds, especially my neighborhood Goldfinches, love the seeds.
The spikes are covered with flowers from about six inches above the rosette of basal leaves to up to 48 inches high. The leaves at the base of the plant are bright green and narrow. The feathery flower petals look like the feathery hats the comedian Phyllis Diller would wear. See the Phyllis Diller’s feather hat on Art.com – not an affiliate link.
Each of those little flowers has a nectar sack at the base. Bees, flies and other pollinators treat Liatris like a buffet.
Liatris Natural Range and Types
They are one of my fifty favorite native plants. The liatris are only found in North America. There are over 40 species that can be found from the Rocky Mountains east to the eastern seaboard. They are Philly natives.
With over 40 species native to Turtle Island (North America), there is a Liatris species for more gardens east of the Rockies.
All the Liatris species will have spikes lined with small nectar filled flowers. Some are shorter than the tallest varieties. Species range from 8 inches to six feet tall.
Other Liatris Species
Gayfeather (Liatris aspera) – good for dry soils
Dotted Blazing Star (Liatris punctata) – good for dry soils
Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pyenostachya) – good for dry soils
Northern Blazing Star (Liatris scariosa)
Garden Conditions for Blazing Star
Liatris spicata, which grows in my garden, is a wetland plant, but tolerates drought well. The Liatris family has species for dry and/or wet conditions.
How Long Do Blazing Stars Live and Grow?
Blazing Stars are a long-lived plant and have been growing in my garden for at least ten years. They have a clumping growth habit and stay where you put them. The clump of the plants growing larger each year.
How to Take Care of Blazing Stars
I’ll have to divide the dormant clumps in the spring to increase the number of blooming plants next summer. It takes the plant about two growing seasons to develop into big showy plants. I have a large, old clump growing in my big flower bed. Last year I divided the plants. Now I have a range of big, old plants and small, young ones.
I haven’t had to stake my older, taller stalks, so far. I hope I don’t.
Do I Deadhead?
My go-to source for maintaining my perennials is Tracy DiSabato-Augt’s classic, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden. (Amazon Affiliate Link)
She advises dead-heading the flower spikes from the basal leaves, basically removing the spent flower stalk. Her experience has been that the Liatris will often re-bloom in August and September.
Deadheading the flower stalk in the middle of the stalk will produce several smaller spikes.
Blazing Star Facts
Scientific name: Liatris spicata
Common Name: Blazing Star or Gayfeather
Family: Asteraceae (Aster Family)
Zones: 3 to 9
Soil: Moist to wet, will tolerate dry soils
Light: sun to partial sun
Height: 24 to 48” tall
Natural range: New York to west to Michigan and southern Wisconsin; south to Florida and Louisiana; occasionally west to Wyoming and Mexico. Native in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
More Posts on Summer Blooming Native Plants
Last Week’s Post – July 2021 Nature Almanac