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March 22, 2019

The straight and tall flower spikes of Liatris put an exclamation point in the garden today on Southern Gardening. 

Liatris is a North American native plant that produces spikes of fuzzy purple flowers.  There are several species of Liatris that range in height up to 6 feet tall.  The more tame selections are 2 1/2 to 4 feet tall.  The flowering portion of the spikes are up to 15 inches long and produced on very sturdy stems. 

Flower color is generally a lavender mauve but some selections come in various shades of pink, lavender and white.  After the flower spikes fade they should be deadheaded so the plant doesn't waste energy producing seed.  This will not produce more flowers but will keep the plant, and your garden, looking tidy.  Prune at the base of the flower spike and the remaining foliage will gather energy to be stored in the corm for next year. 

Grow in well drained soil and in full Sun.  Growing in the shade will produce floppy stems and weak flowering.  Liatris is also useful as a cut flower.  Cut the flowering spike when the top flowers begin to open.  Remove all the lower foliage and put into a vase filled with water.  The flower spikes can also be dried.  Cut about one half the flowers are open, again strip off all the foliage, and hang upside down bundled in six stems.  It may take several weeks to dry and then use as accents in dried arrangements. 

One of the botanical curiosities of Liatris is that the individual flowers on the flower spikes open starting at the top and proceed downwards.  This is just the opposite of most flower spikes that "at the bottom and proceed upwards. 

I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

Department: Plant and Soil Sciences

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