Thursday, July 19, 2007

Liatris, the Lavender Wonder

Tonight we have another butterfly and bee magnet currently blooming out in various spots in the garden, another of our candidates for weed status we're very happy to have spreading its beauty to more and more areas. Liatris spicata, commonly known as 'Gay Feather,' 'Blazing Star,' (and for some odd reason 'Button Snakeroot') has an incredible hardiness range from Zones 3 all the way to 10, thus can be grown in most parts of the country.

In fact it has become near native around these parts ... I thought that it was an Iowa native, but a little bit of research told me that though it thrives in the midwest, it's actually native to the eastern part of the country. No matter, because it has adapted perfectly to our summers ... once established, it's almost impervious to the heat and humidity of July (its prime bloom period) and if you don't deadhead, it self-sows with a mighty vengeance! This is another flower that grows well from a fall sowing ... if you just let the seeds dry on the stalks, collect them and throw them around where you want them to grow, they'll be up the following spring in abundance. A note of caution, however ... they look a lot like grass when they're first coming up, so if you know you've planted Liatris in an area, just let any grassy looking things go until you can be sure. You can also purchase tubers to plant (in fact our first planting was only about 10 tubers which have since multiplied profusely), but either way, don't expect any blooms till the second year, as they spend most of their energy the first year establishing the tubers. But from the second year out, it's all, as they say, gravy and you can count on many years of seeing these positively gay feathers brightening up your garden! Oh, and the bees and butterflies will thank you as well! (I've been working on getting some shots of the bees at work but haven't gotten just the right shot yet, so you'll probably be seeing these again sometime soon....)

So, if you're going for the native look with Coneflowers, grasses, Gaillardia or other prairie type flowers, you can't go wrong planting a few Liatris among them and give them time ... and within a few years, you'll have an abundance of these lavender 'clubs' gracing the garden and attracting droves of butterflies and bees to them, who are more than happy to help increase your inventory even more in successive years!

Photos taken by IVG on July 7 and 10, 2007.

7 comments:

olivia said...

Morning IVG. I love the first photo -- w/ the liatris and the poppies in flower and going to seed. Looking forward to the bee shots when you get them.

Nancy P said...

I love liatris, and I appreciate the advice about growing them, IVG.

In your photos they look real enough to use to tickle somebody.

Family Man said...

Hi IVG.

Great pictures. I like the top picture too. Both flower colors just seem to compliment each other.

Nancy P said...

Funny thing, IVG. Yesterday I was at a sick friend's house when flowers came to her door. They were little red roses and Bells of Ireland! So because of your post below I remembered their name when she exclaimed, "How pretty, but what are they?"

Man Eegee said...

I had a moment of "Eek" because I thought I saw a crumpled up eight-legged creature, but it turns out to be one of the wicked-cool flower bulbs. Great pix and commentary, as always, IVG! Have a great weekend.

boran2 said...

I've had these here in the Hudson Valley. They really have a great color. Nice photos, IVG.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there folks! Sorry I'm a bit behind in getting to comments, but we're back into grind mode at work again, so time is limited and I'm just wiped out at night! (No excuse,I know, but I'm stickin' to it!)

Glad you liked these shots, and I'm sure Boran2 can attest to how easy they are to grow, yet great colour in the garden. They really do put on a long show as they mature on down the stalk, which keeps the bees just coming on back for more ...

FM and Olivia I thought the fortuitous combination of the pink and lavender was irresistible, though alas, that poppy is long gone ... so brace yourselves for the imminent onslaught of hibiscus blooms ... I'm sure you're just shuddering already, hehe.

Nancy, that gave me a good smile that I helped coincidentally identify a flower for you, but I'm sure you've seen these in bouquets before? But I'm all for preventing momentary brain farts on IDs, so glad to help out there!

Manny, Manny, Manny ... have I ever posted one of those eight legged creatures here? Why I know better than to affront delicate sensibilities in such a way (besides I don't even have any shots of them, lol!) ... I'll be sure to put a warning up if I ever do, just for you, just in case ....

Hoping to get some new stuff done this weekend, now that the blast furnace days have relented for a few days (due to return next week), so come back for more!
Have a great weekend!

Movie recommendations for the weekend on video and in theatres: Volver on video ... a positively resplendent Penélope Cruz in Almodóvar's most recent film... and in theatres, we're finally going to get out to see SiCKO, and very much looking forward to that! More later ....