The Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya) is an easy-to-grow and low-maintenance clumping herbaceous perennial, native to the Central United States.
This upright plant features eye-catching bright purple flowers and can grow to be up to five foot tall. It looks great supported at the back of summer borders or in a naturalized meadow-style garden, and they sit well alongside ornamental grass selections.
If you're trying to attract pollinators to your garden, this plant will be an excellent addition. It can also act as a food source for birds through the winter. Even after the late summer bloom has ended, the foliage is still appealing, and the fall colors stand out in a wild garden setting.
|Botanical Name||Liatris pycnostachya|
|Common Name||Prairie Blazing Star, Cat-tail Blazing Star, Prairie Gayfeather|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||Up to 5 foot|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun|
|Soil Type||Tolerant of a variety of soil types - preference for it to be moist|
|Soil pH||Can tolerate a wide range|
|Bloom Time||Late summer|
|Hardiness Zones||3 to 9|
|Native Area||Prairies of Central United States|
How to Grow Prairie Blazing Star
A hardy perennial, Prairie Blazing Star grows well in a variety of soils. It just needs to be kept moist and be positioned in full sun.
Seedlings and slow-developing young plants need a little extra care and attention. Once its established, however, this plant doesn't need much maintenance to thrive.
Although this plant can manage in partial shade positions, it thrives when it receives full sun.
If the light is obstructed, it can cause the stems to grow at unusual angles, rather than fully vertical.
Most Liatris species need a dry soil type. The Prairie Blazing Star, however, does best in rich, moist, well-drained soils.
This plant isn't too fussy when it comes to soil types, though, and poor quality soil won't prevent it from growing.
Although established Prairie Blazing Stars are relatively drought-tolerant, they prefer to be kept moist, especially when they're maturing.
Care should be taken to ensure the plant doesn't have to cope with excessively wet soils in winter, though, as this can cause root rot.
If the plant is left dry too long, it can also result in leaves being lost.
Temperature and Humidity
This plant is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures. It can cope with hot and dry summers and chilly winters.
The Prairie Blazing Star doesn't require fertilizer to thrive. It doesn't even need any in the first year of growth, as is common with many plant species.
Deadheading the Prairie Blazing Star flowers isn't necessary. The dried bloom can be a great source of food for wild birds in late fall and early winter.
Deadheading after the first year of growth, however, can help to ensure the corms will receive the most nutrients possible for maximum growth.
This will increase the chances of the flowers offering up an even more impressive display the following year. Don't cut away the leaves though - just the flower heads.
Propagating Prairie Blazing Star
The Prairie Blazing Star has a bulbous underground plant stem called a corm, and these are easy to divide and propagate from.
Propagating from corms is best done in the spring, just as the new foliage is starting to emerge.
Make sure any corm section you plan to replant has decent roots and growing leaves on the stem.
Even if you don't plan to propagate from the corms, because these tuberous roots multiply quickly, it can be a good idea to dig them up for division every few years. This can help to prevent overcrowding and minimizes the chance of the central plants in a clump dying off.
Growing From Seeds
Good results can be seen from growing this plant from seed. You just need to select a position where they'll get plenty of sun.
Sowing can be done in fall using scarified seeds. The seedbed should be firm and allow for positioning the seeds around ¼ inch deep into the soil.
If you want to sow in spring, the seeds benefit from moist stratification for a few months before planting.