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How to Grow Liatris or Blazing Star

Updated on February 5, 2016

Blazing Star or Liatris

Blazing Star or Liatris is an awesome, unique flower and a member of the Aster family. It is also known by the names gay feather, colic root and button snake root.

What is interesting about it is it is among the few flowers in the world that bloom from the top down rather than the bottom up. This spiked flower starts its journey from the top with colorful purple flowers, which descend as the season goes on (it also has white and lavender flowers, although much rarer).

The flowers themselves have a fuzzy appearance, and while classified as a wildflower, has become very popular among home gardeners, especially those that live in drier climates.

Depending on the specific variety or varieties you plant, Liatris will grow from 1' high to 5' high, and being a perennial, will come back year after year.

Prairie Blazing Star - Photo


Where to Grow Liatris

Liatris performs the best where the lowest temperatures range from minus 40 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. That means they do well in zones 3 - 8.

As to the best place in the yard or garden to plant them, a location with full sun is best, especially in cooler climates. If you're a little more south, Liatris will tolerate a little shade.

Concerning the best soil, other than a poorly draining area, they will do well almost anywhere. They will of course do better in a quality soil which will retain some moisture. If they are planted in an area with poor drainage they'll probably end up rotting.

Avoid low areas with poor drainage, as it's the only place where Liatris could completely fail.

When to Grow Liatris

Liatris is grown from rhizomes or corms. Which one is determined by the variety you choose to plant. They also can be grown from seed.

Either way, you can plant them in the early part of spring or late fall to get best results. If starting from seed, you won't get blooms until the second year after planting them.

How to Grow Liatris

Plant Liatris corms up to 2" deep, spacing them about a foot, or a little more, apart. The tuberous roots of the plants will spread, so give them a little breathing room to expand over time.

Seed can be worked into the ground as soon after the last frost date as possible.

Once you get a bed going you can gather seed and grow them in containers for the next planting season.

After several years you should also divide the plants when they get too close to one another in order to help prevent fungal diseases, and also to expand the garden area covered if you want to.

With the rhizomes, separate them using a sharp tool or knife, always being sure to retain at least one eye in each portion. When you plant these space them about a foot to fifteen inches apart.

Other than diseases which can result from overcrowding, the plants and flowers will also be put under pressure if they're too close together, ending up with both of them being stunted.

Hardy Perennials - Liatris, Blazing Star, Gay Feather - All About This Perennial

Liatris Care

Being a hardy plant, Liatris don't need to be watered when a little dryness hits. You can wait until it dries to up to four inches deep before watering them once they're established.

For the most popular variety 'liactris spicata,' you shouldn't allow it to dry more than about a half inch down before watering.

Water them too much and it'll kill the plant. When you do water do it earlier in the day. Be especially careful in the winter months as to how much you water the plant because they are more susceptible to rot during that season.

You can also mulch them to keep the weeds down and help keep them at optimum levels of moisture.

Once the flowers fade you can snip them off to the ground in preparation for next growing season.

Diseases and Insects

If you plant them in the right place and keep a clean area around the plants, there should be few problems - whether insect or disease - which will affect Liatris.

There are occasional exceptions, which if that happens simply should be taken care of in the usual manner. Pests known to damage Liatris are whiteflies, thrips and aphids.

For diseases, if they occur, usually they'll be powdery mildew or leaf spot disease.

Liatris or Blazing Star

Liatris is a great choice and addition to any cut flower arrangement, and look fantastic whether they're displayed dried or fresh.

They look terrific in the garden and are very easy to grow, with little maintenance once they've established themselves.

When looking for a nice addition to a garden, one that is unique and easy to grow, it doesn't get much better than a Liatris, as it fits almost everything we as gardeners look for to accentuate our gardens, and they show great too.

What more could we ask for from a flower?


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