Liatris spicata ‘Goblin’ also known in Europe as ‘Kobold’ is a dwarf, compact cultivar of this popular North American prairie native. While the species and many cultivars are tall growing up to 150cm (60in) in height, the cultivar Goblin grows to just 60cm (24in). It is a more useful height for the garden and the vase and can be planted at the front of the border.
Liatris is a valuable addition to perennial gardens as a vertical contrast to mounded or broad-leaved plants and look particularly attractive when planted in large sweeps or drifts in informal settings. They are at home in the meadow or naturalised areas. Clumps may be massed together to make a bold statement in a bed or repeated throughout a border to provide exclamation points that contrast with more rounded or bunched blossoms.
The rosy-purple blooms contrast nicely with yellow-flowered plants and blend well with pink flowering plants. They also combine well with grasses and silver-foliaged plants. Plants bloom from July to September and are very attractive to butterflies, bees and other insects.
The narrow grass-like leaves are up to 25cm (10in) long at the base of the plant and become smaller as they progress up the stems. The florets encircle the stems and unlike most spike flowers, which open from the bottom to the top, these flowers open from the top down.
This plant is a bee magnet and has a special value to native and bumble bees. Butterflies also enjoy the nectar and the birds love the seeds. Small birds such as finches will cling to the spikes in late autumn or early winter to eat the feathery seeds.
The Perennial Legacy Garden:
Liatris spicata ‘Goblin’ featured dotted around the front of the borders with Achillea, Monarda and Helenium in The Perennial Legacy Garden, which won both a Gold medal and Best Show Garden at Tatton RHS Flower Show in 2015.
Perennial, the charity dedicated to helping people who work in horticulture when times get tough, partnered with internationally acclaimed, RHS Gold medal-winning garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes, to create the Perennial Legacy Garden. The garden was designed to reflect elements of a large English country estate. It featured long herbaceous borders, a pavilion for relaxing and enjoying the garden, and a separate walled working garden with gardener’s bothy and nursery beds.
The planting palette, a rich tapestry of traditional and contemporary herbaceous perennials, took its inspiration from long mixed borders such as those at Arley Hall and Upton House. The design demonstrated the important relationship that estate gardens have with their gardeners, those who work tirelessly to plant, train and maintain them, and Perennial’s foundations in 1839. It also served to highlight the unique role Perennial continues to play in helping all horticulturists in times of need.
Perennial provide free and confidential advice, support and financial assistance to people of all ages working in, or retired from horticulture. At Tatton 2015 Perennial launched its brand new Legacy Fund raising Strategy. Legacies are a joyful, life driven gift.
If we have planted a seed in your mind of how you could help or if you are just interested to learn more, please see www.perennial.org.uk or call 0044 (0)1372 373 962
Sowing: February to May or September to October.
Start Liatris seeds indoors or sow them directly in the garden in early spring.
Sow the seeds on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays. Cover seed with a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Place in a propagator or warm place, ideally at 14 to 24°C (55 to 75°F). Keep the compost moist but not wet at all times, water from the base of the tray. Germination 20 to 25 days.
Prick out each seedling once it has its first set of true leaves and transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots containing free-draining compost and grow them on in frost free conditions until large enough to plant outside.
Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost has passed. Overwinter autumn sown plants in frost-free conditions before planting out the following spring. Plant 30 to 60cm apart.
Transplant in well drained soil in full sun, if the soil is rich, the stems get floppy. The plants dislike wet ground, particularly during winter. Improve heavy soil conditions by adding coarse grit or sharp sand prior to planting.
Liatris grows best when planted in full sun and well-drained soils. The plants are very drought resistant and are not fussy about soil types as long as the drainage is good. They will tolerate some shade, and poorer soils. Space the plants 30 to 35cm (12 to 16in) apart, this will allow for sufficient sunlight and air circulation among the stems to prevent Botrytis from developing.
Liatris should be planted as early as possible in the spring after the last possibility of frost, but can also be planted in late summer or early autumn when cooler temperatures return. Water plants regularly during the first growing season to establish a strong root system. Once established, Liatris plants are fairly drought tolerant. Do not overwater, Liatris seeds grow into corms and resemble small bulbs and if allowed to sit in constantly wet soil the corms will rot.
Fertilise before new growth begins in the spring using an organic fertiliser. Do not over fertilise as the flower spikes will flop over if plants are grown in overly fertile soils.
When the flowers are dried and spent, they still have a browned decorative value for a little while in autumn, but by November they look dead. The blackened dried flower spikes may persist in winter and it's up to individual tastes whether to prune them right away or wait until spring.
Established plants do not need dividing until they either die out in the centre or become clumps that are too big for the available space. If this occurs, divide the tubers in the autumn or spring just as leaves are emerging. Dig up the clumps and separate the corms or cut tuberous roots with a sharp knife or shovel, keep at least one eye on each division.
Wait until the flower heads on the entire stalk have turned fluffy tan before collecting in October. Bring the stalks inside to air-dry then shake or brush the nutlets from the heads. Seeds can be cleaned or stored with chaff in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Liatris spicata is the most prominent species that is commercially grown for florists. It make a great cut flower and can be used fresh or can be dried. Harvest the spikes in the morning, look for stems with about a quarter to a third of the blooms open. You may use tighter flowers, but you’ll have to use a full-dose flower food or bud-opening solution to get blooms to open.
Before arranging, rinse the stems under tepid running water and recut the stems on an angle, with a sharp, sterilised blade, removing at least 25mm (1in) of stem.
Depending on the stage of maturity Liatris have a vase life of six to fourteen days. Recut the stems and change the flower-food solution in their containers every two or three days.
To dry the flowers, cut when one-half to two-thirds of the flowers are open. Spikes can be air-dried by hanging them upside down in a protected spot for approximately three weeks or by using a desiccant such as silica-gel or sand, which often leads to superior colour preservation.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Prairie Planting, Borders and Beds, Wildlife Gardens, Flower Arranging.
The genus Liatris is in the aster family, Asteraceae. It contains roughly 30 species that occur in almost every U.S. state east of the Rocky Mountains as well as in southern Canada and Northern Mexico. They hybridise freely so there are many populations of hybrid origin that complicates identification of plants. All have perfect flowers that are tubular shaped in discoid heads.
The species L. spicata grows in wet locations, naturally occurring in damp meadows and marshy places. It produces pink flowers on 45 to 150cm (18 to 60in) tall spikes in August and September.
The meaning of the genus name Liatris has unfortunately been lost in antiquity.
The species name spicata comes from the Latin spica for spike. so 'with flowers in spikes' describing the elongated inflorescence, with its crowded, stalkless flower heads.
The protruding styles give the flower an overall feathery appearance, hence its common names of Blazing Star and Gayfeather.
The species is commonly called Snakeroot, Backache Root, Throatwort and Colic Root which refer to Native American medicinal uses as intestinal antispasmodics.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 50 seeds Family Asteraceae Genus Liatris Species spicata Cultivar Goblin Common Name Aka Liatris ‘Kobold'.
Blazing Star or Gayfeather
Other Common Names Gayfeather Other Language Names Fr: Plume du Kansas. Dutch: Lampenpoetser Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Rosy-purple multiple disk florets. Natural Flower Time Mid to late summer - July to September Foliage Dark green, narrow grass-like leaves. Height 60cm (24in) Spread 60cm (24in) Position Full sun preferred. Will tolerate some shade, and poorer soils. Soil Moist well-drained soil. Will tolerate poorer soils. Time to Sow February to June or September to October. Germination 20 to 25 days at 14 to 24°C (55 to 75°F)