Monarch butterfly on dense blazing star (Liatris spicata var. spicata). Beverly Turner, Jackson Minnesota, Bugwood.org

Monarch butterfly on dense blazing star (Liatris spicata).
Beverly Turner, Jackson Minnesota, Bugwood.org

The Florida panhandle has a treasure of native wildflowers to enjoy in every season of the year. In the late summer and fall, blazing star, also commonly known as gayfeather, can be found blooming in natural areas and along roadsides. You can also add it to your landscape to provide beautiful fall color and interest year after year.

Blazing star is a perennial that is native to scrubs, sandhills, flatwoods and upland pines; this makes it a tough plant that can endure drought conditions once it is established. It is ideal for a low-maintenance landscape and is a perfect addition to a butterfly or pollinator garden. The butterflies and bees love it!

Scaly blazing star (Liatris squarrosa). Photo credit: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University, Bugwood.com.

Scaly blazing star (Liatris squarrosa). Photo credit: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University, Bugwood.com.

This beauty grows tall and slender so it is best when planted in masses for an impressive display. This lankiness can result in lodging, or falling over, when the blooms get too heavy but this can be alleviated when grown in masses or with other wildflowers that can support them. The spent flowers will provide your garden with more seed for future years and form a larger colony.

Chapman's Blazing Star (Liatris chapmanii). Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS.

Chapman’s Blazing Star (Liatris chapmanii). Photo credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS.

The home gardener can add blazing star as potted plants or by seeding directly into the soil in October in north Florida. Seeds are available from numerous online sources. Before you purchase, however, make sure that the species you select is a Florida native!

 

 

For more information and seed sources:

Florida Wildflower Foundation

Common Native Wildflowers of North Florida

 

Mary Salinas

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

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