Liatris Planting Guide

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?

Choosing a Site

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.

Soil Prep

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.

When to Plant Liatris

Plant outdoors when frost danger has past. Once established, liatris are fine with temperatures that slip below zero. 

How to Plant Liatris Bulbs (Corms)

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.

During the Season

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. 

At the Season’s End

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. 

Insider Tips

  1. Have a butterfly garden? Be sure to include liatris.
  2. Liatris stems are outstanding additions to fresh bouquets, adding height and texture.
  3. Flower stems may be dried in a cool, shady spot (garage rafters, potting shed, etc.) and used to brighten winter arrangements.
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Success Snapshot

Light: Full sun 

Soil: Average

Depth: Plant 2-3" deep

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Borders, native gardens and mixed perennial beds

Tip: Plant for butterflies and other pollinators

GUIDE: Liatris Planting Guide

They Start Out Looking Like This: