Dotted Blazing Star is a herbaceous perennial flower native to North America. Scientifically known as Liatris punctata, it grows 2′ tall in full sun and well draining soil. Extremely drought tolerant, this plant can grow a 16′ deep taproot! Blooming pink-purple flowers for 3-4 weeks in Summer, it attracts numerous pollinators.
In this article:
- What is Dotted Blazing Star
- What are the benefits of Dotted Blazing Star
- Identification / Characteristics
- How to grow and care for Dotted Blazing Star
- What Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases effect Dotted Blazing Star
- Where to buy Dotted Blazing Star
- Uses of Dotted Blazing Star
- Final thoughts
What is Dotted Blazing Star
One of the more compact species of the Liatris genus, Dotted Blazing Star is a mid to late Summer bloomer putting out numerous pink-purple flower from top to bottom in succession. It’s flowering stalks are attractive, and established plants can look good in nearly all season.
Native to the dry Western plains of North America, Dotted Blazing Star is very drought tolerant, and perfect for drier locations with soil that drains quickly. It can do this because it produces one of the deepest taproots of any species in North America.
It’s flowers are quite showy and unique. While there are other plants with similar pink-purple colored blooms, Dotted Blazing Star blooms have long styles that protrude and curl resembling a curly-cue string. The leaves and stalks are generally erect, giving it nice looking foliage throughout the year too.
Native Range of Dotted Blazing Star
|Scientific Name||Liatris punctata|
|Common Name(s)||Dotted Blazing Star, Dotted Gayfeather, Blazing Star, Dotted Button Snakeroot|
|Native Range, USDA Zone||Western and Central North America, USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8|
|Bloom Duration, Color||3 weeks, Purple to pink|
|Spacing / Spread||12″|
|Light Requirements||Full sun|
|Soil Types||Sandy to clay loam|
|Moisture||Dry to medium, well-drained|
|Fauna Associations / Larval Hosts||Bees, butterflies|
What are the Benefits of Dotted Blazing Star
Dotted Blazing Star blooms lovely purple flowers for 3-4 weeks in mid-Summer. Although short, mature plants will put up many stalks, and the flowers are quite showy and unique. When planted in mass this can make for an impressive display.
One of the shorter species of Liatris, Dotted Blazing Star is generally 18-24″ tall, making it perfect for formal flowerbeds where it won’t become overbearing.
This is one of the most drought tolerant Blazing Stars around, being native to the drier areas of the Western plains. It thrives in coarse, dry soils where it’s taproot can dig down deep.
Identification and Characteristics of Dotted Blazing Star
Mature Dotted Blazing Star plants will have multiple stems coming from the root mass. An individual stem is light green, round, and is sparsely covered with white hairs. It generally is unbranched and reaches a height of 18-24″.
Leaves of Dotted Blazing Star are narrow, linear in shape, 1/4″ wide by 2″-4″ long and closely ascending the stem. They are arranged alternately, have a midrib and have a texture made of glandular dots, and have ciliate margins.
Near the top there are small flowerheads that are 1/2″-3/4″ long by 1/4″ diameter. There are 4-8 star-shaped disc flowers with 5 petals and a long, divided style that curls as it protrudes far out past the flowers. There are green to purple bracts that are flat against the flowerhead.
Flowering begins at the top and works itself down the stalk over the course of 3-4 weeks. Blooming generally begins in mid-Summer.
How to save seed from Dotted Blazing Star
To save seed from Dotted Blazing Star, return to the plant about 6 weeks to two months after blooming. The flowerheads should now produce small seeds with feather-like tuft of brown hair.
Cut the stalk below the seeds, and place it into a large paper bag or bucket. Store the container with stalk in a cool dry place for several days to ensure any surface moisture has evaporated. Then, rub the stalk to dislodge the seed.
Dried seed can be stored in a sealed plastic container in the refrigerator for a year or two.
One other important note – Liatris species can hybridize. So if you are growing other species that are blooming at the same time, your seed may yield a different plant! And Dotted Blazing Star has been known to cross with Liatris aspera and Liatris pycnostachya.
The root system of Dotted Blazing Star is several branching lateral roots and a taproot that has the ability to extend downwards to depths of 16′ in light soil, making it one of the deepest roots plants around! But even in heavier soils it still managed a depth of 7′, which is almost unconscionable when we think of modern gardens and raised beds.
Grow and Care for Dotted Blazing Star
For sunlight, Dotted Blazing Star will grow best in full sun. It can tolerate partial shade, but will not be as showy or tall.
For soil texture, Dotted Blazing Star prefers sandy, coarse soils that drain well. It can grow in silt, loam, or even clay loam provided it can drain.
If you are unsure of well your soil drains, see our guide for testing soil drainage here.
For moisture, Dotted Blazing Star will grow best in dry to medium-moist soils.
Dotted Blazing Star will not need much maintenance. There may be some self-seeding that occurs in optimum conditions. And if it doesn’t receive sunlight from all directions, it may lean or reach for the sun (and in response to competition). Due to the shorter nature of this plant, that isn’t as large of a problem as with it’s cousin Prairie Blazing Star.
Dotted Blazing Star can thrive in poor sandy soils. It does not need supplemental fertilizer.
How to Grow Dotted Blazing Star from Seed
Dotted Blazing Star is not too difficult to grow from seed, but can be more difficult to establish as a seedling. But, seeds will greatly benefit from a two-month cold stratification. This can be accomplished by cold stratifying in a paper towel/baggy in the fridge, or via Winter Sowing (my preferred method).
Another note on growing Liatris from seed….I have found that Liatris doesn’t separate well. When you have multiple seeds germinate in the same container, you are faced with the choice of separating seedlings or thinning them. When it comes to Liatris, when transplanting young tender seedlings the soft root mass seems to be easily damaged. A small suggestion to overcome this is to use larger containers to start your plants, and then thin seedlings rather than separating and transferring to larger containers.
I would suggest using 4″ round or square containers that are at least 3-4″ deep. And I find that it is almost best to germinate the seeds in early Spring via Winter Sowing, then care for them all season, only to transplant them out when temperatures cool a bit in September/October.
Process to germinate Liatris punctata seed
- Fill a suitable container with moist potting soil. Leave a 1/2″ gap at the top.
- Press 3-5 Dotted Blazing Star seeds into the soil.
- Cover with a light layer of soil, perhaps 1/16-1/8″ thick (1.5-3mm)
- Mist with water
- Place the container in a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade.
- Germination should occur within 3 weeks of temperatures warming up
Establishing Dotted Blazing Star take patience. You will not get flowers the first year, as all the plants energy is put towards growing the root mass. The second year you should get some blooms, and in year three you can expect multiple stalks blooming. Below you can see a small gallery (click to enlarge) showing the progression of a single plant in my garden through four years.
I personally like to grow Liatris seedlings by Winter Sowing them and then growing them in 4″ square or round containers all season until September October, when I transplant them to their final location. I do this because the roots are tender and easily damaged, and thus by waiting they grow larger and more robust. Also, many do not know this but you can plant perennials until the ground freezes!
Direct Sowing Dotted Blazing Star Seed
You can direct sow Dotted Blazing Star seed in Autumn or Winter. Simply scatter the seed over a disturbed area and walk on it. Walking on it will ensure good contact with the soil. Please know that birds do enjoy eating the seed, and it is likely that you will lose a significant amount to birds/rodents.
Dividing Dotted Blazing Star
While other species of Liatris are easily divided, Dotted Blazing Star, Liatris punctata, should not be divided. This is because of it’s extensive, deep taproot. So, place this plant where you want it to be permanently!
Wildlife, Pests, and Diseases associated with Dotted Blazing Star
Dotted Blazing Star attracts a wide variety of bees and butterflies. Everything from small hover flies to bumblebees will visit, as well as numerous species of butterfly such as Silver Spotted Skipper and Cabbage Whites.
Dotted Blazing Star also hosts the endangered Pawnee Montane Skipper, Hesperia leonardus var. montana.
Like other species of Liatris, Dotted Blazing Star seeds are beloved by many species of birds. This is a plant that will attract birds to your garden during the Fall and Winter when food is scarce. It sort of acts as a natural bird feeder.
Liatris punctata is generally pest free.
Deer and Rabbits
Deer and rabbits generally avoid established Dotted Blazing Star plants. However, young, tender new growth is often browsed even on ‘deer resistant’ plants. But older leaves and stalks are generally safe. I would recommend using Liquid Fence the first year with regularity.
It is possible for Dotted Blazing Star to develop rust (fungus). However if planted in a dry environment, this should be quite rare. I’ve never seen any rust on my plants in my ‘temperate’ climate.
Where you can buy Dotted Blazing Star
Dotted Blazing Star is not generally for sale in regular nurseries. But it can be purchased at specialty nurseries that deal in Native Plants. You can find native plant nurseries near you on our interactive map.
Where to buy seeds
We have ordered a variety of native flower seeds from Everwilde Farms, which you can order right from Amazon through our link on our RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS PAGE. (We may earn a small commission when you purchase through our links, at no cost to you. This helps support our website.)
Uses of Dotted Blazing Star
Dotted Blazing Star can do very well in formal flowerbeds, short meadows, dry slopes, rocky areas, and sandy soil gardens. It is relatively trouble free once established, and seems to thrive in what are normally considered bad garden conditions.
If given irregular sunlight, Dotted Blazing Star may lean or reach for the sun. To help counteract this, either plant it in a truly full sun environment or give it the Chelsea Chop in late May/early June.
For companion plants, try growing other full sun, drought-tolerant plants that like well draining soil. Some suggestions are the following:
- Blanket Flower
- Butterfly Weed
- Hairy Wild Petunia
- Hoary Vervain
- Mexican Hat Coneflower
- Meadow Blazing Star
- Narrow Leaf Coneflower
- Partridge Pea
- Spotted Bee Balm
- Tennessee Coneflower
Some grasses that pair well with Dotted Blazing Star are below. These are all deep rooted, drought tolerant species:
Dotted Blazing Star has been found to grow well in mine reclamation projects. The act of mining is itself violent, and that violence extends to the land as well. One problem that we face when a mine closes is that the ground is often polluted/contaminated with slag or refuse from the mineral that was mined, often making the soil pH either too high or low. And this soil often will not grow much of anything. Well, there are a number of species of plants that have been found to grow well in reclaiming mine land, and Liatris punctata is one of them.
- Infusion of roots were used to treat several ailments including gonorrhea, itching, stomachaches, and to make horses more energetic in hot weather
- Roots were boiled and used to reduce swelling
- Tea made from roots was used to treat bloody urine or bladder trouble
- Plant was eaten raw
- Roots could be baked and eaten
- Was used to treat snakebites 
One of the shorter Liatris species, Dotted Blazing Star is a showy, compact, drought tolerant long-lived perennial. Generally disease free, they attract a number of pollinators and really don’t require any maintenance. This is a nice perennial one should consider adding to their yard.
 – Liatris punctata. USDA NRCS. Accessed 25AUG2023.
 – Wynia, Richard. “DOTTED GAYFEATHER Liatris punctata Hook.” USDA NRCS Plant Fact Sheet. 2003. Accessed 25AUG2023.
 – Currah, R, Prairie wildflowers : an illustrated manual of species for cultivation and grassland restoration, Edmonton, Alberta : Friends of the Devonian Botanic Garden, University of Alberta, 1983, pp303
 – Xeriscape plant guide, Golden, Colo. : Fulcrum Pub, 1996, pp196
 – J. E. Weaver, North American Prairie, Johnsen Publishing Company Lincoln Nebraska, 1954, pp348
 – Menhusen, Bernadette R. “ECOLOGY OFTHE PRAIRIE SPECIES OF THE GENUS LIATRIS.” ecology 176: 597-602.
 – Salac, Sotero S., Jayne M. Traeger, and Peter N. Jensen. “Seeding Dates and Field Establishment of Wildflowers1.” HortScience 17.5 (1982): 805-806.
 – Knopf, Jim, The xeriscape flower gardener : a waterwise guide for the Rocky Mountain region, Boulder : Johnson Books, 1991, pp184
 – Flourish!: 50 Plants For 50 Years: celebrating fity years of the York street Denver Botanic Gardens, Boulder, Colo. : Johnson Books, 2009, pp149
 – Bjugstad, Ardell J., and Warren C. Whitman. “Promising native forbs for seeding on mine spoils.” Proceedings of the Conference: Reclamation, a Global perspective. Vol. 1. 1989.
 – Liatris punctata. North American Ethnobotany Database. Accessed 25AUG2023.
 – Fielder, Mildred, Plant medicine and folklore, New York : Winchester Press, 1975, pp271
 – Fielder, Mildred, Fielder’s Herbal helper for hunters, trappers, and fishermen, Tulsa, Okla. : Winchester Press, 1982, pp186
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