Wackybadger, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Slender Blazing Star is an upright, clump-forming perennial with fluffy, purple flowers that bloom in late summer. It is best to plant it with slow-growing perennials or as a border plant, as it is a shorter, non-competitive plant. The long-blooming perennial Liatris, a slender blazing star or gayfeather, is native to eastern North America. It is a big aster (Asteraceae) plant, family member. There are pink and white varieties in addition to the vivid purple flower spikes of the pure species. Small, unnoticeable leaves that resemble grass grow in a basal clump.
Liatris cylindracea is frequently planted in the spring from potted nursery starts or corms after the last frost date. Although they frequently bloom in their first year, starting from seeds is also an option. However, it may take plants two or three years to blossom.
While you can acquire bulb-like root systems in bulk for great savings, Liatris can also be produced from potted nursery starts. Even though they are sometimes advertised as bulbs, these dry root formations are corms. These structurally developed latent stem portions will produce shoots and flowers three months following a spring planting. Look for Liatris cylindracea corms that are at least 3 inches in diameter since they will produce gorgeous flowers, just like other bulbous plants. The corms should be planted 2 to 4 inches deep and 12 to 15 inches apart.
To plant your Liatris corms, pick a location that receives direct sunlight. Since these are prairie plants in their natural habitat, the more sunlight they receive, the better off they will be.
Liatris cylindracea corms can be grown in almost any soil, regardless of their fertility level. However, efficient drainage is necessary to avoid rot. Due to their predisposition to have slightly floppy stems, the plants may need to be staked in extremely rich soils. Liatris plants prefer soil with a pH between neutral and slightly acidic. Heavy clay can lead to root rot if the soil doesn’t drain well enough, especially during the winter.
Give the corms lots of water after planting. The corms don’t need any additional irrigation until stalks start to appear. During the hottest months, one inch of water each week will prevent stunted flowers and leaf scorch when the plants begin their active growth. Moisten the bases of the plants or use drip irrigation to stop fungi from spreading. These plants need more water in their first year, although they can tolerate dry soil and drought pretty well.
Temperature and Humidity
Liatris cylindracea is hardy in zones 3 to 9 and can tolerate summer heat and humidity rather well in warm locations. It also does well in very harsh winters as long as the soil is not overly damp. The corms may decay in winter soils that are too wet.
Liatris doesn’t require much food, but you can add a balanced flower fertilizer each spring as the plant’s active development starts if the soil quality is low. However, Liatris cylindracea typically thrives without any kind of feeding in the majority of excellent soils.
Liatris doesn’t require any special winter cold protection when grown in its hardiness range. The standard procedure is to simply cut the flower stalks off at ground level, though you can choose to leave the flower heads in situ to provide food for wintering birds.
Avoid piling mulch over the plant crowns for the winter as Liatris cylindracea does not appreciate wet winter soil, which might trap moisture and promote bulb rot. In the spring, before new growth appears, be sure to remove any wet garden detritus.
Common plant diseases
There are no significant insect issues with Liatris, but a number of fungi can cause difficulties, including leaf spot, rust, stem rot, powdery mildew, and verticillium wilt. The best strategy is to keep these diseases at bay by providing the plants with ample sunlight and airflow. Leaf spot and powdery mildew are examples of mild fungal illnesses that are typically not harmful and may not even need treatment. Fungicides can sometimes be used to cure more serious infections, but it may still be essential to remove and destroy plants that have been significantly impacted.
Common Problems With Liatris
Liatris cylindracea is a resilient native wildflower that typically grows well with only moderate care. Too much care, such as excessive soil fertility or irrigation, is frequently the cause of difficulties.
Flower Stalks Flop Over
When growing in medium or poor soil, including rocky, gravelly soil, Liatris cylindracea is a plant that is quite hardy. Staking the plants is typically not required. Contrarily, extremely fertile, rich soils have been known to cause flower stalks to collapse. The flower stalks may need to be staked up in this situation, but you may probably cut back or stop feeding without any problems.
At ground level, plants get mushy and break off.
This symptom is the classic sign of stem or corm rot, which is brought on by moist soil introducing a fungus into the roots or stems. These plants will have to be taken out. Often, you can avert future issues by reducing water use or enhancing soil drainage.
Relations with Nature
The bright purple flowers are visited by butterflies, skippers, long-tongued bees, and many other insects. Mammalian herbivores such as rabbits, groundhogs, and deer consume all parts of the plant.
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