Can Liatris Grow In Pots: Learn About Container Liatris Plants

Can Liatris Grow In Pots: Learn About Container Liatris Plants

By: Amy Grant

Liatris is a native perennial notable for its spiky bright purple bottlebrush flowers borne atop the lush grass-like leaves that blossom in the late summer. Found growing in prairies or grasslands, liatris is also at home in the garden, but can liatris grow in pots? Yes, liatris can grow in pots and, in fact, growing liatris plants in containers makes a show-stopping tableau. Read on to find out about container grown liatris and caring for potted liatris.

Planting Liatris in Pots

Liatris belongs to the aster family that is made up of around 40 different species and is also known as gayfeather and blazing star. Hardy in USDA zone 3, the three most commonly cultivated in gardens are L. aspera, L. pycnostachya, and L. spicata. You may very well be familiar with liatris due to its prominence in the cut flower industry. The purple spike of liatris can be found in pricey high-end bouquets, less costly supermarket floral arrangements, and even in dried flower arrangements.

I love cut flowers but am totally against spending a fortune on something that will only last a short while, which is why liatris (along with a slew of other cut flower perennials) adorns my garden. If you are lacking in garden space, try planting liatris in pots.

There are a couple of advantages to container grown liatris. First of all, gayfeather is an easy to grow perennial. This means caring for liatris is simple and the plant will die back in the winter but return vigorously the next year. Growing perennials in pots, in general, is a wonderful way to save time and money since they return year after year.

Depending on the species, liatris arises from a corm, rhizome or elongated root crown. The small blooms open from the top to bottom on the 1 to 5-foot (0.3 to 1.5 m.) spike. The tall spear of flowers also attracts butterflies and other pollinators, and is drought resistant for those of you who forget to water your pots.

Growing Liatris Plants in Containers

Liatris prefers light sandy to loamy well-draining soil in full sun to light shade. My liatris came from dividing my sister’s plant, but it can also be propagated by seed. Seeds need a chill period in order to germinate. Collect seeds and sow them in flats to remain outdoors over the winter. Germination will take place as temperatures begin to warm up in the spring.

You may also mix the seeds into slightly moist sand in a plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator after harvesting them. Remove the seeds after two months and sow them in flats in a greenhouse. Sow the seedlings outside in containers after all danger of frost has passed for your area.

Other than occasional watering of your liatris, there’s not much else the plant requires.

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Liatris spicata Garden Plant Growing Guide

Liatris spicata is an herbaceous perennial that is commonly referred to as Dense Blazing Star or Button Snakewort. Plants are native to the prairies, marsh regions, and meadows of North America.

The Liatris genus contains 37 members, other well known species include Liatris aspera (Rough blazing star) and Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie Blazing Star).

As a member of the 23,000 strong Asteraceae (Compositae) / Composita family it is closely related to species belonging to genera such as Ammobium, Crepis, Helichrysum, Tanacetum, and Ursinia.

Liatris spicata is a medium-tall plant, with showy spikes of purple flowers, that looks great as part of a border.

It is often grown for its deer-resistant properties, and to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden.

In addition to borders, it also looks great as part of a Prairie / Meadow wild-life landscape, and makes a great fresh or dried cut flower. Cultivars are available with pink and white flowers.


Botanical name:

Common names:

Blazing star, gayfeather (because of its feathery flower plumes)

Plant type:



1 to 5 feet, depending on the species


Grows best in full sun, but will tolerate light shade.

Bloom Time:

Color and characteristics:

Produces fuzzy florets of bright purple or white flowers that bloom from the top down on unbranched stems, giving them a unique bottlebrush effect. The slender, grass-like green foliage stays attractive all summer and deepens to bronze in the fall.


There are about 40 species of liatris, most native to the prairies and meadows of eastern and central North America. All are very similar in culture and growth habit, so pick plants that suit your preference of height and flower color.

Pests and Diseases

Blazing Star, like many native plants, is resistant to deer. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee that deer won’t eat it, but it certainly increases the odds that they’ll leave it alone. If deer are a problem, plant it with other deer-resistant perennials, such as Shasta daisy, purple coneflower or Russian sage.

Blazing Star is generally trouble-free, but it does have a few potential pests. In hot, humid conditions, you may notice leaf spot or rust. Leaf spot, as the name implies, causes blackened, brown or yellow spots on the leaves. Rust causes orange or red spots, which spread. Another common problem is powdery mildew, which causes a white film to form on the leaves.

To prevent these diseases, plant Blazing Star at least 12 inches apart so air circulates freely. Divide the plant when it becomes crowded. Water with soaker hoses or drip systems instead of overhead sprinklers. Don’t work in the garden while it’s wet because wet leaves spread disease. Rake up and discard any diseased leaves and cut the plant back in the fall so diseases don’t overwinter. If diseases are severe, spray with a fungicide labeled to treat the specific problem.

Q. liatris over winter

this is the first year I have grown liatris. Can you know how to prepare my blazing star plants for our cold winter?

Some varieties are hardy to zone 3.
If your unsure of the variety you bought, mulching them will help.
I garden in zone 4 and my Liatris winter over in a slightly protected area.
Here is a link with more information.

Comments (10)


Montauk daisy might work but it gets BIG unless you prune it twice a year. I'm guessing the size containers you describe wouldn't be large enough for it. Also, in my experience the lower leaves get ratty looking. Sedum Autumn Joy flops even in full sun for me so I generally use a peony ring to keep it looking tidy.

Another option might be Adenophora pereskiifolia/ladybells it gets tall (28-42") and blooms off and on right through the season if deadheaded. Mine are sending out fresh blooms now for the third time this year. The stems are strong and don't need staking the flowers are bell-shaped and lavender. It has a smaller footprint than the others and from what I've observed, is just as drought tolerant and worry-free. It's easily grown from seed.


The sedum autumn joy I have doesn't flop over at all. It's stands up straight. I can see the montauk daisy not working because it tends to spread out more than up but this sedum grows very vertical. Do you think the roots of one would hinder the other?


  • Agastache (hyssop)
  • Aster
  • Butterfly
  • Butterfly
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coreopsis (tickseed or calliopsis)
  • Delphinium
  • Dianthus
  • Gaillardia (blanket flower)
  • Goldenrod
  • Liatris (blazing-star, gay-feather)
  • Oregano (ornamental)
  • Penstemon (beard tongue)
  • Phlox
  • Purple
  • Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan)
  • Salvia (meadow sage)
  • Scabiosa (pincushion flower)
  • Sea
    pink (pinks, dianthus)
  • Sedum
  • Verbena
  • Veronica (speedwell)
  • Yarrow

There are more than one species of the flower plants listed here.
The ones listed are some of the most common and the other names they may
be known by.

Find other plants for butterfly gardening in containers at First, select your growing zone and the plant type. Then, select “good for containers” and “attracts butterflies”. You can narrow your search further if you want with color and bloom time. You will get a
whole list of potential candidates for your butterfly container garden.
This is a great resource.

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