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March 19, 2020

Dr. Gary Bachman: The straight and tall flower spikes of liatris put an exclamation point in the garden today on Southern Garden.

Announcer: Southern gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University extension service.

Dr. Gary Bachman: 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 six feet tall. The martane selections are two and a half to four feet tall. The flowering portion of the spikes are up to 15 inches long and produce very sturdy stems. Flower colors 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 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 it in a vase filled with water. The flower spikes can be also dried. Cut when about one half of 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 open at the bottom and proceed upwards.

I'm horticulturist, Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

Announcer: Southern Gardening with Gary Bachman is produced by the Mississippi State University extension service.

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