13 Tips for Growing Liatris – Attract Bees like a Magnet!

If you want to attract both butterflies and bees to your garden this year, try growing liatris. This perennial corm flowers in mid summer with a blast of flowers that are a magnet for them.

I have 10 garden beds around my home and I’m always interested in growing perennials of all types since they come back for me each year.  When I first started growing perennial bulbs, I purchase some Liatris corms.  I did not know much about them but I love spiky flowers and though they would look nice in my front cottage garden bed.

Liatris, is also called Blazing star and gay feather. It's easy to see why.

LIatris is often called a bulb but is actually a corm. See my article to help understand the differences between bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers.

I now have this plant growing in several of my garden beds and the plants gets bigger and bigger each year.

Easy To Grow Liatris – Blazing Star

The plant has not disappointed me. The first year, I planted it,  I got a few flowers but each year since,  they have multiplied and are just lovely. Some clumps have dozens of large flower stalks and the flowers are very long lasting.

Liatris could not be easier to grow.  I planted mine, amended the soil with compost and watered evenly the first year to get it established. On subsequent years, I  pretty much neglected it, other than adding a bit more compost and dead heading the spent flower spikes.

The bees just LOVE these flower spikes.  Liatris is commonly known as a Blazing Star.  One can easily see why from the flowers.  It is also called a gayfeather.

Growing Liatris

Liatris is a great plant for beginning gardeners.  As long as you keep on top of the watering when the plant is getting established, it is then very easy to care for.

Cold Hardiness Zones

This Perennial corm in hardy in zone 3-9 so it is able to grow in most areas of the USA.

When to plant Liatris

The corms are normally planted in the spring, but can also be planted in fall in some areas. They will often bloom the same year that they are planted.Flowers will bloom about 70-90 days after planting.

Size

The size depends on the variety and age of it, but my plant started out about 1 foot and now the clumps are about 4 feet wide.  Clump of liatris in a garden bed

The flower stalks can grow up to 6 feet tall. Mine grew to about 30 inches the first year and my established plants now have stalks about 4 feet tall. Be sure to keep the size of the plant in mind when planting liatris.

Sunlight

Liatris loves full sun.  Most of mine get 6-8 hours a day or even more.  This perennial is a tough summer bloomer that does not mind the heat and even does well with a lack of water. It’s an easy to grow plant here in the heat and humidity of North Carolina.

Flowering Season

The flowers of blazing star liatris start blooming in mid summer and continue right through the fall for a long lasting show of colors.   Even the spent flower spikes have an interesting.Listris flower spike

The liatris flower spikes have a mass of tiny buds that open gradually from the top down.  It is very impressive and one can see where the common name “gay feather” comes from!

The plant is most often seen with purple flowers but there are also white and pink varieties.

Corms:

Liatris are grown from corms – swollen dormant parts of the stem.  They send up long shoots first which have a flower spike which just seems to keep growing and growing.  Choose large corms and you will get better and bigger flowers.

Soil conditions

The plant will grown in pretty much any soil type, but mine have done well in well draining soil amended with organic matter. The don’t like soggy soil where the feet are wet. This can cause the corms to rot.

Soil PH

A slightly acid soil is preferred.  Adding used coffee grounds around the plant can add acidity to the soil.

Watering:

Thankfully, liatris are quite drought tolerant.  Water evenly the year you plant them and then forget them! The only think they don’t seem to like is TOO much watering. Liatris don’t like wet feet.

Liatris Propagation

Split the corms of the plants in the fall. Dig them up after your first freeze and pick off any small corms that are clinging to the mother corm.  Store the divided corms in a cool area and then replant the following spring.

Liatris clump ready to bloom

The plants can be divided in early spring but they will have a set back and will require more water if you do it then. (don’t as me how I know this!)

Planting

Space corms 4-6″ apart and the clumps 14-16″ apart -or even more. They will eventually get to be quite large clumps.Growing liatris. Plant to give it room to grow

Dig a hole about 5-6 inches deep and as wide as the corm.  Plant and cover with soil.

Mine grew to this size the first year of planting!

Uses

Great for cut flowers and long lasting color in the summer garden.  They attract bees and butterflies like a magnet. The plant is deer resistant.

Bees love liatris

Problems and pests

Liatris are relatively resistant to pests and disease.  My main problem with them has been voles. The corms are a favored food of both meadow voles or prairie voles.Gladioli and liatris in a garden bed

I had liatris and other bulbs planted in my front garden bed for years and all of a sudden we had a problem with voles in the winter. This past spring, every corm was gone.  No liatris, no tulips, no gladioli. The only bulbs that were left were my daffodils.  Fortunately, they have not (yet) discovered my back garden beds.

Follow the few tips above, and your liatris will give you years of pleasure. They can be grown with many planting companions, and liatris is always a standout—truly a blazing star in any mid-summer garden.

To remind you of my growing tips, just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest.

Tips for growing liatris (also called Blazing Star.) This pretty perennial bulb flowers in mid summer with a blast of purple that attracts bees and butterflies.

Have you grown liatris?  What do you think of it?

Admin note: This post first appeared on my blog in July of 2013. I have updated the post with additional information and new photos.

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  57 comments for “13 Tips for Growing Liatris – Attract Bees like a Magnet!

  1. ebby
    09/07/2013 at 12:13 am

    Thank U personal experience is always gud .

  2. Jen
    04/12/2014 at 6:54 pm

    I bought a bag full of corms a few years ago and planted them all over my property.
    I was sad to discover that they need full sun. Some of the locations I wanted them are somewhat shady, so they either don’t grow at all or just barely poke up and never bloom.

    A couple of locations get more sun and have bloomed.

    Thanks for your growing instructions and all the nice photos.

    • admin
      04/15/2014 at 9:17 am

      My pleasure Jen. Mine get full sun for most of the day. Carol

    • Joe
      09/21/2019 at 7:02 pm

      Can I divide and transplant liatris in the fall. In zone 5a. Full sun. Thanks

      • Carol
        09/21/2019 at 7:05 pm

        Hi Joe. Liatris should be divided in the spring.

  3. 04/13/2014 at 5:39 pm

    I had my first experience with this plant when someone gave me some & I wish I had dug them up & brought them with me when I moved. They were over 6 ft tall & had the thickest stalks…not to mention that they were growing in mostly shade! I ended up buying more since, & those have done very well in full sun & they reseed like crazy, but they don’t produce the same quality of plants like the first ones I had, but they still get everyone’s attention.

    • admin
      04/15/2014 at 9:17 am

      It’s amazing how thick the stem gets on them when they like their conditions isn’t it? Carol

    • Dorota
      04/14/2017 at 12:45 pm

      It is actually illegal to take your plants from the garden after you have sold your house unless you state in your agreement that you will do it. The people who owned our house before us took a whole truck of plants with them. It made us very mad, especially that all they needed to do is ask. We ended with a 25×30 bald patch with nothing growing on it.

      • Carol
        04/14/2017 at 2:56 pm

        I had the same thing happen in my yard. The whole back yard had all the azalea bushes removed.

  4. Lisa
    10/22/2017 at 1:17 pm

    So basically you don’t have to dig up the Blazing Star in the fall unless you want to divide them? They are “winter sturdy”?

    • Carol
      10/22/2017 at 6:03 pm

      Hi Lisa. Yes that is correct. Blazing star is cold hardy in zone 3 to 9. Carol

  5. Cody
    04/23/2018 at 10:16 am

    How long after planting the corms, until I see something poke through the soil? It has been almost two weeks and nothing has popped through the soil yet…?? They have full sun and good soil!

    • Carol
      04/23/2018 at 12:10 pm

      Ho Cody. Corms and bulbs are not like other plants. They need just the right weather conditions to start growing. There is no hard and fast rule. Liatris bulbs planted in the fall grow in late spring and bloom in summer. Those planted in the early spring will bloom in summer (about 60 to 90 days after planting. Carol

    • Janice Desfosses
      09/21/2019 at 8:18 am

      You said liatris corms can be planted in the fall in some areas. What areas would that be? I live in zone 5 and just received a bag of corns. Can I still plant them this fall or do I need to store them until spring?

      • Carol
        09/21/2019 at 9:02 am

        I would store them until spring. Liatris is normally planted in spring when the weather is cool but there is time for them to get established.

        They can be planted in fall in southern areas of the country, (warmer zones)

  6. Terry Kirkland
    06/27/2018 at 1:43 pm

    Great Plant for sure. I am experiencing some die back just as the flowers are about to form.
    I have not been able to find any pests that might be causing the dieback. Any suggestions?
    Thanks

    • Carol
      06/27/2018 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Terry. I’ve not had this happen to mine, or read about it. Normally liatris is pretty resistant to most diseases and die back usually happens to woody stemmed plants. The only thing I can think is that the plant might be older and the corms are crowded at the base so that division would help with the health of the plant. Carol

      • Michele
        09/21/2018 at 2:18 pm

        Terry, I had this happen too and I think mine were getting too much water. They all flopped over. I’m moving them and trying again next year.

  7. lisa
    07/10/2018 at 10:07 pm

    I have grown these the past couple of years and i love them. After they bloom and the stalk is nearly empty will they rebloom on the same stalk/ It is only mid July and they have already bloomed the entire length of the stalk. Will they bloom again or is it a once and done?

    • Carol
      07/11/2018 at 1:11 pm

      Hi Lisa. The stems of liatris will only bloom one time, but sometimes you can encourage the plant to rebloom by trimming the spent flower stems back to the top of foliage. The second bloom is usually sparse. Carol

  8. 08/02/2018 at 1:38 pm

    Hi,
    Flower of Liatris is in small buds in spikes. And open from top to bottom. This is really very effective. I want to put it in my garden, its bulb will be found in India? Will it survive in the temperature here? The information you have provided is quite accurate. Blessed by.

    • Carol
      08/02/2018 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Sunil. Liatris will survive in both the hottest parts of the USA and the coldest. I am not familiar with gardening in India so I don’t know if you will find the bulb there. Carol

  9. Emma Hall
    08/18/2018 at 8:03 am

    Hello Carol, I live in Johannesburg South Africa and have tried all over the country to buy liatris plants but without success. Do you think one could import these plants?

    • Carol
      08/18/2018 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Emma. I doubt it. I can’t say for sure, but most countries have pretty strict laws about importing plants of any kind. Carol

  10. Beverly
    09/19/2018 at 10:19 pm

    Hi. I live in zone 9A in Florida. My liatris flowers turned black about 2 weeks I planted to them this past May. The leaves stayed green for a while but eventually died too. Now it’s September and I see a few green leaves poking up from the last dead stem. I don’t know what I did wrong.

    • Carol
      09/20/2018 at 10:51 am

      Hi Beverly. Usually that type of damage indicates that the plant has rotted. It could have been bad corms when you bought them, or overwatering. If there are a few green leaves poking up, they MAY come back. Remove all the dead looking parts and hope for the best. Carol

  11. Jessica
    09/26/2018 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks for the great post! How many corms do you usually plant together to make a good size clump like the ones you had pictured? Thanks in advance! This was a really helpful post!

    • Carol
      09/27/2018 at 11:13 am

      Hi Jessica. I can’t remember exactly. I think I might have planted 6 perhaps. They do naturalize and the clump grows larger each year.

  12. mike
    01/13/2019 at 9:36 am

    Hi Carol,

    Very good article on liatris.
    Do you know if you can start liatris corm’s indoors under grow lights if temp is cool enough. I know they need a cooling period.
    I am trying to get a jump on 2019 gardening season soon.
    Most nurseries ship corms in the spring so if plants flower in 70-90 days that would put bloom time in June. I would like to see if i can get them to bloom earlier than that.
    Thanks…

  13. Joanie
    03/16/2019 at 12:37 pm

    Would love to plant some pots that would be just full of liatris on my deck this summer. How many corms would you suggest putting in a pot? One? Six? A dozen? I have no idea how big one corn gets in one season. Any info you could share would be really appreciated! 😊

    • Carol
      03/17/2019 at 8:52 pm

      Hi Joanie. It depends on the size of the pot. The first year, my plants came from one corm and grew to about 1 foot wide and about 2 1/2 feet tall with a taller spike of flower. Each corm makes one plant. In a pot, they won’t get as large.

  14. Lucy Whiting
    03/28/2019 at 3:57 pm

    I am planting liatris along with some coneflower in a smallish bed. Do you think the liatris should go towards the back or it doesn’t matter? Are the two things kind of going to grow into each other anyway?

    • Carol
      03/31/2019 at 10:31 pm

      Hi Lucy. I would plant it towards the back. The plant needs room to spread out in time. It’ll get about 3-4 feet wide and about the same in height.

  15. Tracy
    04/05/2019 at 2:50 am

    Hello! How many corms should I put in a 12” ceramic pot? I picked some up today and want to get them planted ASAP to try and get a bloom this year. I have ZERO knowledge about gardening but feel like I should do my late Mother proud by trying to grow a garden. She had spectacular gardens! I want to put them in pots because we will be moving by late summer and want to take them with me. 1 corm in the pot doesn’t seem like it will give me the ‘full to the brim’ look I want. Hope this makes sense.

    • Carol
      04/06/2019 at 9:26 am

      I would not put more than two to a pot. One might work best. Liatris needs room to spread out. They really are meant to be grown in the ground. The plant has an arching foliage habit (that gets very large but just one stalk. So getting a full look is not so easy in a pot.

      • Krista
        04/12/2019 at 8:15 pm

        I have bulbs. Can I start these inside now, then transfer or keep in pots for summer?

        • Carol
          04/12/2019 at 9:59 pm

          Most bulbs can be grown both in the ground and in pots. Generally if you start them inside it is to force blooms for indoors, not to replant outside later.

  16. Janette
    04/11/2019 at 6:32 pm

    Hi Carol
    We live in Tampa Florida. We are fortunate to have a winter with a fire in the fireplace however from June through September is hot, humid coupled with hurricane season. I apologize for being so wordy but the success of a butterfly garden is so important to me. Based on your knowledge of liatris can you recommend compatible plants that I could incorporate with liatris bulbs I just purchased. The butterfly garden is in memorial of daughter that passed in January. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you so very much. Janette

    • Carol
      04/16/2019 at 9:49 am

      Liatris grows well along side of daylilies, shasta daisies, Oriental and Asiatic lilies, hollyhocks, foxgloves and other plants that like full sun.

  17. Emma
    04/15/2019 at 1:14 pm

    I bought these for inside my pool fence to add some color. Are there usually tons of bees? I just worry because there will be lots of kids. Maybe planting near the pool isn’t a great idea?

    • Carol
      04/16/2019 at 9:40 am

      The bees do like the plants but it’s not like they are overrun with them. The bees are more interested in the flowers than people. Any flowers attract bees so having them near a pool means that they will be around.

  18. Susan
    04/27/2019 at 6:27 pm

    Hi Carol
    We just planted a bunch of Liatris in our raised beds.
    Many are lying on the ground. Should they be staked ?

    Thank you !

    • Carol
      04/27/2019 at 9:05 pm

      My experience is that liatris usually will not need staking the first year but may do so after. It all depends on the weight of the flower head, which seems to get bigger as the plant ages.

  19. Elizabeth Saylor
    05/06/2019 at 7:36 pm

    When first planting bulbs, how deep should the bulbs be planted?

    • Carol
      05/06/2019 at 9:34 pm

      Hi Elizabeth. Plant them about 5-6 inches deep in a hole at least as wide as the corm.

  20. Nancy G.
    05/22/2019 at 1:55 pm

    Hello –

    So happy to have found you. Thank you for the helpful info and photos. I have read many articles but there is something I don’t understand and I cannot find it specifically spelled out anywhere… Some say to plant the Liatris corms 6 inches apart in groups and to space those multi-corm groups about 15 inches from neighboring plants. Others say to plant one large 12mm corm singly in a 12 to 15 inch space. What I do not understand is what a single corm produces. Does each individual corm produce only one single flower spike, or multiple flower spikes? If multiple, how many?
    When you see photos of Liatris, it is never noted how many corms it took to create the look pictured. Can you please tell me, what does one individual corm normally produce and how much space does it occupy at maturity? I definitely want a multi-spike plant, but is that only achieved by planting multiple corms in a group? Or, will a single corm give me multiple flower spikes?

    Thank you,
    Nancy

    • Carol
      05/23/2019 at 11:55 am

      The corms multiply underground as time progresses. One corm will eventually become many (which is why they are spaced at planting) and then the flower stalks will be more as well.

  21. Nancy G
    05/29/2019 at 9:56 am

    Carol, thank you so much for the reply. So are you saying that, when planted, and even at maturity, one single corm produces only a single flower spike? But as the original corm multiplies underground over time, that’s when you would see multiple flower spikes? …I’m a clueless, new gardener so I appreciate your help & wisdom. I have wanted to try these for multiple seasons now but never understood. Thanks again.

    • Carol
      05/29/2019 at 11:08 am

      To be honest, I have not dug them up and looked. I just know that the first year, I had a single flower and in subsequent years, the area of the foliage got wider and I got more flowers. I transplanted a patch last summer and it was originally one corm and the patch had about 6 under the ground and this year has the same number of flower stalks, so I assume each one produces one flower.

      Even so, the flower is very impressive and large.

  22. calvin e. sturdevant
    06/16/2019 at 8:42 pm

    I bought liatris corms in April. Can I still plant them in June?
    The same for asiatic lilys?

    • Carol
      06/16/2019 at 9:58 pm

      Hi Calvin. Both plants are meant to be planted in spring rather than summer. It takes time for the bulbs to develop stems and then to flower. If you plant them later, they will still grow, but might not flower until next year.

  23. Diane Scullion
    07/15/2019 at 3:12 pm

    I live in Mich, planted liatris 2 years ago, plants are doing well but rabbits are chewing the flower blooms off at about 2″from the ground. they don’t eat the bloom, it just lays there & dries out. They do same thing on one of my lily plants. Anything I can plant next to them to keep rabbits away?

    • Carol
      07/15/2019 at 5:38 pm

      The only real deterrent that I have found for rabbits is fencing.

  24. Kyle
    08/17/2019 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks for all of the great information. I purchased a bag of corms a couple weeks ago, should I wait to plant them next spring vs put them in the ground now?

    • Carol
      08/17/2019 at 9:42 pm

      Liatris is normally planted in early spring but you can also plant them in the fall if your growing season is long. Spring is best in most areas, since it gives the corms a chance to get used to their place in the garden and become established.

  25. nancy P Smith
    08/23/2019 at 5:37 pm

    My liatris is just gorgeous — I won $300 worth of perennials last year in a raffle – all to put together as a butterfly garden it said. I did not have room to do that but spread them all around the yard – delightful! So my question is what do I do with these “dead” blooms – cut them or leave them now as fall approaches? They are not ugly but of course not as pretty as when they were in full bloom. I see where someone asked about a second bloom – so wondering if I should cut off what already bloomed and maybe will get more smaller blooms? Do not want to hurt them – love them! thank you

    • Carol
      08/23/2019 at 10:52 pm

      Hi Nancy,
      I cut the blooms off mine when they start to look untidy, always before fall. Mine do not reflower. I’ve heard that some corms and bulbs will reflower with cutting the blooms off, so it’s worth a try at least.

      When plants do reflower, the blooms are often smaller.

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