Plant Profile: Liatris

'Kobold' liatris has a bright purple bottlebrush flower that blooms from now through August.

‘Kobold’ liatris has a bright purple bottlebrush flower that blooms from now through August.

If you are searching for a beautifully colored and easy-to-grow perennial to add to your garden, Liatris is the plant for you. Liatris plants have two common names, Blazing Star and Gayfeather. These perennials are native to prairies in the United States. In the late summer, liatris produce striking 1- to 5-foot tall, bottlebrush-like spikes of bright purple, or sometimes white, flowers. The planting to blooming time of liatris is 70 to 90 days. Its flowers are attractive to butterflies, bees and other insects. They are summer flowers, blooming from July to August. They grow 3 to 5 feet tall and about a foot wide.

The genus Liatris is a part of the Aster family and contains roughly 30 species. The species occur in almost every state in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, as well as southern Canada and northern Mexico.

Liatris plants do not have any significant insect problems, other than flea beetles in a couple of locations. The perennial is subject to a few diseases such as leaf spots, rusts, powdery mildew, white mold, and vertiticillium wilt. However, liatris is relatively pest resistant.

Liatris are grown from either corms, rhizomes or elongated roots/crowns and plants can be found at most nurseries or garden centers.  The most effective way to grow the plants is to space them 12 to 15 inches apart in full sun and well-drained soils. However, liatris is accepting of various soil types, which makes it an easy plant to grow and nurture.

Water liatris well when first planted. Once established, liatris do not require a lot of water, so allow the soil time to dry between watering sessions. If plants are grown in healthy soil, fertilization is not necessary. These adaptable plants are the perfect choice if you are looking for a low maintenance way to brighten up your garden.

Megan Danielson