Does Liatris Spread?


Liatris is a genus of plants that is comprised of over 50 species!  Most, if not all are native to North America.  Many species of Liatris are sold in garden centers under various names such as Blazing Star, Gayfether, Heart and Poke.  One of the most common and popular is Liatris Spicata.   Liatris Spicata is a beautiful and showy perennial flower that is commonly grown in gardens.  Growing upwards of 5′ (1.6 m) tall depending on the conditions and soil, Liatris plants can get quite large.  Planting Liatris in full sun and well drained, fertile soil will allow it to grow to it’s largest size and reach it’s full potential.

native plant flower bed
Blooming in this flower bed is Blazing Star (Liatris Spicata), Winecup Flower (Callirhoe Involucrata), Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea), Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Cardinalis), and Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica). Also in the bed but not blooming is Blue False Indigo, Eastern Red Columbine, and New England Aster.

How does Liatris Spread?

Liatris Spreads in two ways.

  1. By the underground root mass (Corms) growing larger in diameter, which makes the spread of the plant larger.
  2. By self-seeding from the flower stalks.  These germinate in Spring once temperatures are reliably above 50 F (10 C).

How Liatris Spreads by Corms

Liatris is a Cormous plant in that it has a large mass of ‘corms’ underground.  Corms are very similar to bulbs, in that they act as an underground stem from the roots to the above ground foliage.  Each year, the underground corm mass (like bulbs) will grow in size, increasing the spread of your Liatris Plant.

A Liatris Spicata (Blazing Star) Corm Mass is underneath all that dirt….

After 3-5 years, you the diameter of your Liatris plant may grow too large for it’s Corm Mass!  What happens is the older, interior corms will stop producing flower stalks.  This is quite common in other flowers as well, such as Echinacea Purpuea and New England Aster.

A small Liatris Corm, broken off from the main clump

To see our step by step guide on Dividing Liatris, CLICK HERE.

But, once this occurs, you should divide the plant in Early Spring or Late Fall.  Or, you can just do it every 4-5 years or so.  As the corm mass will grow somewhat slowly.

How Liatris Spreads by self-seeding

To some extent, each year Liatris will have some seeds fall off the stalk and germinate the following year.  This often happens from birds picking off the seeds on the stalk.  During this action, some of the seed will inevitably get knocked off the stalk, and not eaten by the bird.  And Liatris seeds have a ‘feather’ attached at the base that will allow the seed to travel a short distance from the plant.  But, controlling the spread of unwanted seedlings is quite easy for Liatris Spicata.  All you need to do is to pull the tiny seedlings in early Spring, and voila!

Liatris Spicata Seed
Blazing Star seed (Liatris Spicata). These fall right off the stalk.

To give you an idea as to how much Liatris Spicata Spreads, see the pictures of my front garden below.  There are about 15-20 mature Liatris Spicata plants in these pictures.  In all I would estimate that I had at least 50 seedlings emerge in the Spring.  Some of which I will allow to grow, as I like scoring free plants!  In early Spring, you can basically transplant Liatris Spicata corms to a new location with little to no risk of harming the plant.

Click on the small images to see a full size image (it’s large).  It is hard to show all the small ‘grass like’ seedlings on a small screen!

 

I modified the coloring a bit in an attempt to make the seedlings ‘stand out’ against the black mulch.  I hope it worked!

Well, that’s it!  I hope you found this article helpful.  There is some more information on Liatris Spicata here, such as root depth, grow and care, etc.  Also, you should check out some of our other Native Plant Articles.  There are sooo many native plants that are beautiful, but not often sold in garden centers.

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liatris does it spread

Joe Foster

Hi - I grew up outdoors in nature - hiking, fishing, hunting. In high school I got my first job at a garden center where I learned to garden and landscape. I've been growing plants from seed and designing native plant gardens for over six years. I hope to share some of my knowledge with you! Additionally I am a wood worker / DIY enthusiast. I enjoy designing/building projects (with hand tools when I can!). I hope to give you some tips and useful information!

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