2 Mar

Gayfeather (Liatris spicata), 2 to 3 feet, vertical spikes of purple or white hairy looking flowers in summer, likes rich, moist soil and lots of sun, great cut flower.

The genus Liatris belongs to the Asteraceae, or aster family, and is composed of around 40 different species. Common names include gayfeather and blazing star. Most of the species are prairie or grassland natives and have stiff, erect, two- to five-foot stems and grass like leaves. The flowers (technically “flower heads” composed of multiple florets, or tiny flowers) are generally wispy purple, sometimes white, and they cover the top third of the stems in dense clusters from early summer to late fall, depending on the species.

Because of their vertical nature, Liatris species take up minimal space and are suitable for even the smallest garden. They are equally at home in large, established perennial borders, where their thin, tall, airy floral wands create a mesmerizing “pop-up” effect.

Besides getting a visual boost, your garden will also hum delightfully from the various insect pollinators that come to feed on Liatris flowers. Butterflies are particularly attracted to the nectar-rich blossoms. Birds will also pay a visit as they relish the fall-ripening seeds.


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