What do Liatris Grow and Look Like ?

nutsaboutflowers(2b/3a)January 24, 2011

Actually, I know what a Liatris looks like on paper, but I've never really seen a real one in a garden.

Do they grow well in Zone 3? Do they tolerate wind? Do they need to be staked? Do they look full and lush, or scraggly? Do I need to grow 5 or more of them to look nice, or 1,2, or 3 ??? How long to establish and/or bloom? Are they relatively disease and pest free?

I'm looking through my Botanus catalogue and getting antsy. =:)

I think that's all the questions I could possibly ask.....

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don555(3a)

I grew a bunch last year. I don't know if they overwinter in zone 3 or not. They seemed quite wind sturdy, no staking needed, most of them bloomed the first summer, no problem with pests or diseases. I had a clump of 15. Personally, I wasn't impressed. I thought they were a bit scraggly, so while most of them got flowers, they never really put on an impressive show. If that's as good as they get in my garden I wouldn't grow them again. I have however seen pics of very impressive clumps, which of course is what attracted me to them.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 5:46PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Liatris spicata is a great and reliable perennial in our zone. They seem to like my sandy soil and clump up pretty fast. My house came with one that is a clump now. The winter of 2008 I started some indoors and they bloomed for the first time last summer. They seem a little slow to get going so buying a plant is probably a good idea.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 5:53PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

I went looking for a photo and would you believe I have never taken one of them in bloom? Just to show they are attractive out of flower however... they are the thin leaves at the bottom right. The bloom late in the summer.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 6:07PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I rescued some from a basket of plants that my mother-in-law tossed out. That was probably 10 years ago and it's still doing well.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 7:17PM
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don555(3a)

I don't have any close-ups of mine that I mentioned in an earlier follow-up in this thread, but if you look on the far left side of this overgrown picture, behind the faded tiger lilies but in front of the Karl Foester grass, you can see some of the pink tufts of the liatris. I planted them from pips in the spring and the pic was taken in September. They are okay, but not very showy IMO. My soil is fairly heavy, particulary the subsoil.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 9:02PM
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nutsaboutflowers(2b/3a)

Well, it seems that I should buy some fairly established plants and see how it goes. If they clump that'll be great, but if they look like the ones in Don555's picture, I agree that's not what I have in mind either.

Northspruce has sandy soil and I have amended clay, or pure clay, depending where I find a space to dig a hole. Hmmm. I did rescue some Iris bits from a friend's clean garbage bin last year, so maybe I should keep my eyes peeled for someone's mother-in-law's castoffs =:)

Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 9:42PM
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freezengirl(3aMN and 5AK)

Liatris grow well in Northern MN zone 3, look a bit like a baby bottle brush. The variety we grow there is more bluish lavender color. It is a native praire plant.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 10:40PM
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shazam_z3

Liatris do clump nicely. They are one of the few perennials that look good planted singly. I find they do need support. I use half hoops these days for that sort of thing.

I want to say I have a picture of mine somewhere but I can't find it. Here's a link to a picture of it on Calgary Garden Coach's blog.

Here is a link that might be useful: White liatris

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 11:06PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I went looking for pictures last night too - didn't find any, but i had a good time visiting with all the other flowers from last summer! :)

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 7:39AM
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shazam_z3

Same here :) I have around 3000 pictures I need to catalogue so yeah, I'll probably start on that never.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:46PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Ooh the white ones are pretty! Must get some. That's what mine look like except they are purpley pink.

BTW if you ever dig one up by accident, they grow from a big tuber thing the size of a softball.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 8:23PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

The only liatris that might need staking is L. ligulistylis.

L. spicata is the one you will find sold in stores, and for good reason: it is the showiest. It is my opinion that one should never make a full judgment of a perennial until it has grown at least through its second season. This is an impatient world we live in now, and people always want immediate gratification. Plants are just not like that. It's good that don555 qualified his answer, or we might all think badly of liatris. Frankly, I think his plant looks good for the first season planted.

Rick

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 10:42PM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

I think what I have is Liatris spicata..well I have 'Kobold' but I also have the non-dwarf version. I did plant the white version too, but unfortunately it rotted out in our heavy soil last year with all the rain. That is the one thing I don't like about them; in our heavy clay soil, I have had trouble keeping them healthy with all the rain we've been getting the last 2 years. Our soil is amended, but it just isn't enough. Also, I fertilized them too much last year, and the tall liatris flopped right over. Next year I'll try either skipping the fertilizer for it right away, or I'll give it a dose in spring and then be done with it.

My husband calls it "the monster plant" because it really is a strong grower and quite tall and very striking. I think it would make the best statement with 2 or 3 plants planted near each other. The color can be very flourescent. If you get the full sized version, it probably won't grow very tall its first year. Wait until the next year and it'll have a boom.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 8:06AM
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ontnative(5b Can/USDA 4)

'Kobold' can be purchased as corms/bulbs in a bag. I believe these ones come from Holland. Planted this way, they are relatively easy to grow. They like a moist soil and don't flop or lean as many of the taller varieties do, especially in a partly shaded site.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 10:58PM
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don555(3a)

OK, I take back all the mean things I said about liatris above :-) I didn't realize they were perennial in zone 3 so while I wasn't impressed with them last year, they have come back vigorously and my original 15 pips now have 30 flower stems developing. I'm eager to see them bloom, but here's a pic how they look today:

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 6:30PM
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shazam_z3

Hey, mine are at the same stage :)

Mine are still a little floppy. I think the soil might be too rich or something. Or maybe because Calgary's so damned windy.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 7:21PM
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nutsaboutflowers(2b/3a)

Well, I planted the Liatris Mix from Botanus and so far I'm just about to get two of them to bloom.

Thanks everyone, especially Don for showing me what to look forward to in the second year =:)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 1:04PM
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don555(3a)

Just for the record, here's what they look like in bloom on Sept. 2, with the same shovel in there for scale:

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 4:23PM
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silvergoldenrod

Is Liatris long lived? Because I read somewhere it was a short lived perennial. I'm trying to find plants in the snakeroot family.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 7:21PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Liatris spicata is long-lived here. Not sure if there are other species that might have a shorter lifespan. Mine in the photo above came with the house 7 years ago and is still doing fine.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 11:46AM
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