Liatris, also known as 'Blazing star' are a cheap and easy way to add a lovely purple colour and an attractive upright growth to flower borders.
Liatris corms are extremely cheap and if you plant a bag of 15 or more corms in a large clump in early spring than you will have a dramatic blaze of purple colour in late summer. The flowers, which are usually purple though pink and white varieties are available, grow on tall stems of around 30-90cm tall though sometimes taller. The plant has a tall stem with lots of short leaves growing all the way up the stem and a cluster of purple flowers which start opening from the top and work their way down resulting in a tall feathery plant spike. The flowers are a magnet for butterflies and bees.
Liatris is an extremely versatile plant and is useful in almost any style of garden including cottage gardens and prairie-style planting. The flowers are fairly long lasting and when they fade leave quite an attractive bronze coloured seed head which can be left to decorate your winter garden. The stalks look great when dusted with frost! An added bonus of leaving the seed heads is that the plants self-seed abundantly though it can take a year or two for the small seedlings to flower.
Liatris flowers make attractive and quite long lasting cut flowers and can be used in dried flower arrangements too.
Liatris growing guide
Liatris prefer full sun but will grow in partial shade. They are not too fussy about soil types but prefer not to be planted in soil that is very wet. They are very resistant of drout conditions and fully hardy. Really they are almost fool-proof so long as they are in reasonably dry soil with plenty of sun.
It is recommended to space the corms out about 30cm but I prefer a more tightly packed clump and have never had any problems. Plant them about 4-5 cm deep (no deeper) checking that the small roots on the corms are facing downwards.
Whilst the flowers attract many beneficial insects they are not particularly affected by insect attack or disease making them very rewarding to grow.
Liatris can be grown from seed and indeed may self seed in your garden but the easiest way to increase numbers given how cheap they are is to buy another bag of corms!