Liatris spicata, also called dense gayfeather, has low-growing foliage and a tall flower spike that emerges from its centre. Tufted purple blooms adorn the spike, which grows to a height of 3 to 6 feet. Liatris spicata is a hardy and easy to care for wild flower that returns from its roots each year.
One of the most important aspects of liactris spicata care is the selection of the growing site. The plants thrive with exposure to at least six hours of sun each day. They are most vigorous when grown in nutrient-rich soil, though they also survive under less than optimal conditions. This liatris variety does best in consistently moist soil during the growing season, but the roots may rot if constantly moist during winter months.
Liatris spicata seeds require a period of stratification, which means exposure to cold temperatures, before they will germinate. This can be accomplished by sowing the seeds after temperatures have cooled in fall. Nicking the coating of each seed helps to promote germination. The seed bed should be cleared of all grass and weeds and the top layer loosened just prior to planting. Supplemental watering is not necessary until seedlings emerge. Add nursery-grown liatris spicata plants to the garden after frost danger in spring.
Watering and Feeding
Regular watering should begin as soon as the seeds emerge in spring. This liatris variety doesn't do well in dry conditions, so it's important to provide water anytime the top 1/2 inch of soil no longer feels moist. Give liatris spicata a boost by applying commercial fertiliser in spring. All watering and fertilising should be stopped in early fall so that the plants will be dormant when cold weather arrives.
Maintenance and Care
Weeds can quickly drain water and nutrients away from liatris spicata, especially when the plants are small. Pull unwanted vegetation regularly by hand or apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around base of the flowers to control weed growth. Once the seedlings are 3 to 4 inches tall, thin to leave 12 to 15 inches of space between each plant. Snip off unsightly leaves anytime and trim back the blooms spikes to the ground when all flowers fade.