Liatris ligulistylis attracts monarch butterflies with its vivid purple late-summer flowers.
Virtues: Liatris ligulistylis, or meadow blazing star, is a perennial plant that blooms in late summer and autumn. Its bright purple flowers provide food for butterflies, hummingbirds and pollinating insects, so much so that it has earned the nickname “the monarch magnet.” Its seeds feed songbirds, especially goldfinches. It is also easy to grow and easy to combine with other plants in the garden.
Common name: Meadow blazingstar or gayfeather, Rocky Mountain blazingstar or gayfeather
Botanical name: Liatris ligulistylis
Exposure: Full sun
Season: Late summer into autumn, for flowers
Flowers: Shaggy purple flowers open along tall stems in late summer, drawing monarch butterflies, other butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.
Habit: This herbaceous perennial grows to about 3 feet tall and half as wide. It may grower taller in rich soils (which also make it floppy and in need of staking or support from surrounding plants). Its narrow, strongly vertical habit recommends it for mass planting or for use as punctuation amid other meadow plants.
Origins: Liatris ligulistylis is native to central Canada, Wyoming south to New Mexico and west to Michigan as well as parts of the Midwest US.
How to grow Liatris ligulistylis: Site in full sun and average soil with even moisture in summer and good drainage. Wet soils in winter will kill this plant. It can tolerate some drought in summer, but it may not perform as well as when the summer soil stays moist. Avoid fertilizing Liatris ligulistylis, because feeding it can make it overly tall and floppy stemmed. USDA Zones 3–7.
Bottom liatris image by Joshua Mayer from Madison, WI, USA – Showy Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis), License: CC BY-SA 2.0
Top monarchs on liatris image by Dan Muller via Flickr License: CC BY_NC_ND 2.0