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Liatris: Native American Perennial

Plants that have flower spikes are useful as they provide vertical interest both in the gardens and in a vase.

Plants that have flower spikes are useful as they provide vertical interest both in the gardens and in a vase.

One Native American perennial with tall erect wands of small flowers that are purple, rose-purple or white, is liatris. Each spike of flowers has a fuzzy texture because the multiple disk florets arranged close together on the tall stems, don’t have any petals.

The leaves are lance shaped, and the plant enjoys full sun and moist well-drained soil.

Liatris in Your Garden

Clumps may be massed together to make a bold statement in a bed or repeated throughout a border to provide exclamation points that contrast with more rounded or bunched blossoms.

The flowers open from the top of the stalk downwards and are attractive to butterflies and goldfinches.

Picking and Maintaining Liatris

The tallest varieties have flower wands 3-5 ft tall, but L. spicata ‘Kobold’ is a cultivar which has reddish lilac racemes only 2 ft tall.

Established plants are drought tolerant and do not need dividing until they either die out in the center or become clumps that are too big for the available space. If this occurs, divide the tubers in the fall or spring.

The common names for liatris are blazing star or gayfeather and plants such as white shasta daisies and yellow day lilies combine well with them.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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