This perennial gets its name from its flowers. They appear on tall stalks, blooming from the top down rather than from the bottom up, similar to sparklers. Blazing star is a favorite nectar plant for butterflies like monarchs as well as many other pollinators. Once the blooms are done, the seeds make a nutritious snack for finches. Unfortunately, blazing star is also a favorite meal for rabbits and deer, so plan accordingly.
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Thanks to their tall wands of purplish pink blooms, blazing stars make eye-catching additions to sunny gardens. Their fairly unassuming foliage of fine green leaves looks almost grass-like and blends into the landscape well. Once blooming begins, the tall, colorful spires sway in the breeze and are constantly abuzz with pollinators. At peak bloom, blazing stars are a favorite for butterflies. Several different species and varieties are available, and some have especially long-lasting blooms.
Blazing Star Care Must-Knows
Blazing stars are true prairie plants. They thrive in poor soil conditions as long as there's good drainage. These plants grow by way of small corms, a modified storage root that looks like a bulb, which will rot in soggy soil. One of the main causes of death in blazing stars is too much winter wetness, so make sure they never sit in water in cold weather. Avoid overly rich, fertile soils, as they can encourage lush, soft growth prone to flopping.
Like many other prairie plants, blazing stars need full sun. They also can take heat and drought, sailing through some of the toughest summers without missing a beat. Planting blazing stars in full sun will ensure that the plants put on a good show of flowers, and will keep them as compact as possible. Taller species will need neighbors to lean on to prevent flopping.
Many species of blazing star have seen an increase in popularity over the years because of the pollinator movement, which encourages gardeners to plant natives and other nectar sources for essential beneficial insects like bees. A few varieties offer dwarf habits for smaller spaces and reduce flopping.
More Varieties of Blazing Star
'Floristan White' blazing star
Liatris spicata 'Floristan White' may reach 3 feet tall. Its leafy stems carry long spikes of creamy white flower heads at their tips. Zones 4-9
Blazing Star Companion Plants
Easy, always fresh, and always eye-catching, Shasta daisy is a longtime favorite. All cultivars produce white daisy flowers in various degrees of doubleness and size. The sturdy stems and long vase life make the flowers unbeatable for cutting. Shasta daisy thrives in well-drained, not overly rich soil. Taller varieties may need staking.
Long-blooming helenium lights up the late-season garden with showy daisy flowers in brilliant yellows, browns, and mahogany, centered with prominent yellow or brown discs. Many of the best cultivars are hybrids. All are excellent for cutting. Deadhead to extend bloom time, and divide the clumps every couple of years to ensure vigor.
Grow artemisias for the magnificent silver foliage that complements nearly all other perennials and ties together diverse colors within the garden. They're nothing short of stunning next to white or blue flowers. They thrive in hot, dry, sunny conditions, such as a south-facing slope. A number spread rapidly to the point of being aggressive, so consider limiting to varieties that are well-behaved.