Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at email@example.com
I hope you’ve noticed the eye-catching purple Liatris growing in open fields along the roadsides. Also known as Gayfeather and Blazing Star, Liatris spicata is up and showing its beauty for everyone’s enjoyment.
I just love it when plants thrive in unkempt areas, where no one actually planted them, no one is fussing over them, and quite possibly, no one is even noticing them.
I guess Liatris hasn’t read the research because this perennial plant that prefers a more acidic soil flaunts itself even in our more alkaline soil type.
Liatris is unique in appearance, standing up to 4 feet tall and forming a long spike of purple, feathery flowers. There are some varieties that have pinkish and white flowers.
Because of their distinctive beauty, Liatris is quite often used in floral arrangements to add height, color and texture.
Their peak bloom time is July, August and September, so now is the time to notice and appreciate them.
They are definitely sun-loving flowers and although they prefer moist soil, seem to be doing rather well despite our dry summer months.
Liatris is a great flower if you enjoy butterflies, since they love this flower. Birds and hummingbirds also visit Liatris.
If you think you’d like to grow this flower species, you can look for them in plant nurseries that carry unique plants or you can watch for area flowers to go to seed.
Once you can gather some seeds, you have a couple of choices. For fall planting, the dried seeds need to be scarified, meaning the seed coat should be scratched, for the best chance of germination.
If you’d rather wait until spring, then stratify the seeds, meaning store them in a cool, moist medium such as sand or peat moss or in an air-tight container in the refrigerator (three months at 40 degrees), until you’re ready to plant.