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July Flora Spotlight:
Blazing Star

Blazing Star

A native American wildflower Liatris is excellent for borders, meadows, or most garden settings that are in full sun. This member of the Aster family’s lavender flowers bloom from summer into fall. They are drought resistant in well-drained soil and good for cut or dried flowers. The Garden feature four varieties. 

Liatris aspera, tall blazing star, produces lilac-purple flowers in crowded, fluffy spiked inflorescences. The flower spikes open from the top downward, which is the opposite of most flower spikes. They are at home in most soils and conditions including damp places such as stream banks and ditches. They do best in low humidity and thrive with minimum care and attention. When Jay Kranik, the BGA Garden Manager, was designing the parking lot extension several years ago, he chose this species for its tolerance to hot, sunny dry conditions and long color bloom. This variety can reach four plus feet high.

Liatris spicata, marsh blazing star, is commonly grown in gardens for its showy blooms. Like the other blazing star varieties, butterflies, bees, and birds love the fluffy spikes of flowers. Examples of this species can be viewed in the BGA Gardens on the Peyton Rock Outcrop. 

Liatris microcephala, dwarf blazing star, produces spikes of fluffy lavender tassel-like flowers that rise from tufts of grassy leaves. This is a very fine, graceful and delicate textured variety with a ground loving habitat. They can grow up to 3 feet but normally are half that. This Liatris can grow in sun or light shade. It tolerates clay, drought, humidity, and poor to harsh conditions generally.

Liatris squarrosa, scaly blazing star, produces red-violet tufted like button flowers on 2-3 foot stems. The dark green foliage is shinny and leathery. This plant needs good drainage but is tolerant of harsh growing conditions such as poor soil, heat, humidity and drought. 

With all the varieties and easy to grow anywhere features, what’s not to like about Blazing Stars? I would put it in my top five summer blooming natives. The upright faded flower stalks stay interesting in fall and provide food for the birds, especially finches. Another great reason to plant blazing stars in your garden.

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