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Liatris may be the Rodney Dangerfield of the perennial plant world, never getting the respect they are due. These versatile, adaptable plants are among the easiest to grow and are rarey, if ever, bothered by insects or disease. Liatris are low maintenance and recently hav become florists' darlings. The grassy foliage warms to bronze with autumn's cool nights, adding color and texture to the late season garden. Liatris often flower their first year, and then just get fuller and better over time. Really, why haven't your planted a few of these already?
Liatris plants love sun and thrive in full sun sites. Borders, meadow gardens, cottage gardens, mixed perennial gardens and cutting gardens are all good places to include liatris. Avoid locations where the soil stays moist in the winter.
These perennials prefer well drained soil of average richness. If your soil is lean, mix in some compost or add a slow release fertilizer when you plant. Mature plants generally do not require additional fertilizer.
Planting in rich soil may result in flower spikes that become floppy, so these is a case where more is not better.
Plant outdoors when frost danger has past. Once established, liatris are fine with temperatures that slip below zero.
Dig holes about 12 to 15 inches apart and plant the bulbs 2 to 3" deep. Cover, tamp down soil and water well once to settle the soil around the bulbs. The bulbs develop roots and sprout within a few weeks. Water sparingly until the plants sprout and gradually provide more water as the plants grow. Newly planted bulbs without top growth to support need little water; too much moisture can encourage bulb rot.
Liatris thrives with about 1" of water, from rain or irrigation sytems, per week. While the plants are very young and have small root systems, giving them a bit more water during hot or windy periods is helpful. Feel free to trim off spent flowers to keep the plants looking their best.
When frost darks the foliage in late autumn, feel free to trim for esthetics. Or leave the grassy foliage to add movent to the winter garden. Trim off dead leaves before new spring growth appears.
Light: Full sun
Depth: Plant 2-3" deep
Water: Average moisture
Uses: Borders, native gardens and mixed perennial beds
Tip: Plant for butterflies and other pollinators
They Start Out Looking Like This:
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