Blazing star, also called liatris (Liatris spp.), is one of our most strikingly beautiful native plants. Its tall lavender spikes annually treat us with spires of eye-pleasing color.  More importantly, the plant produces nectar and pollen for hosts of wild pollinators.

The plant serves as a food source for bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and moths. However, undoubtedly its most famous visitor is the monarch.  Researchers do not know why monarchs are drawn to this plant. However, researchers suspect blazing star produces chemical cues that draw these large orange and black butterflies to their frilly flowers.

Several species of liatris grow in the Peach State. However, even the experts sometimes find it difficult to identify which species they are looking at.

You are likely to find blazing star blooming from summer into fall.  Those species that bloom during the monarch migration can be important sources of nectar for the long-distance migrant. 

Liatris grows best in full sun in both dry and moist soils.

Gardeners like the fact that blazing star bloom for several weeks.  Interestingly, its spikes bloom from the top down.

If you are looking for a stunning addition to your home flower garden, consider planting this hardy perennial. If you do, you will also providing monarchs and other native pollinators with a valuable source of food.

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