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Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

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Liatris sp. (Blazing star)
liatris spicata

Zone: 3 to 8

Soil: sand to loam

Light: Full sun to part sun

Bloom colour: lilac, mauve, purple, white

Bloom period: August

Height: 1.5 to 5 feet

Moisture:Varies (see note below)

Attracts: Especially attractive to monarchs

Notes:This plant produces flowerheads that start blooming at the top of the flowerhead for several weeks. They are highly regarded as cut flowers and are known for attracting a variety of bees and butterflies. I find their popularity with insects to be overrated in Ontario, but if you want to attract Monarch butterflies, then you absolutely have to plant Liatris ligustylis. If you have limited space for your wildlife garden, do not bother planting any other Liatris. This species does not do well in drought conditions. If your soil dries out, consider planting Liatris aspera instead.

The most common species sold in nurseries is Liatris spicata (Marsh Blazing Star). As the name suggests, this species prefers ample water and fertile soils but can survive surprisingly well in dry sandy soil with little bit of watering. However, no Liatris should be planted in clay soil because there is a high chance of root rot killing the plant in winter. For Liatris pycnostachya and Liatris spicata, you might be able to get away with a clay loam soil. Whatever, soil you use, it must be well drained. If you have dry sandy soil, then try planting Liatris aspera, Liatris cylindracea, or Liatris punctata. Liatris punctata is a smaller species that survives drought with really deep roots. It is not native to the province of Ontario, but it is available in some nurseries.


Liatris spicata- Marsh blazing star
Liatris punctata
Liatris punctata - Dotted gayfeather
liatris with monarch

Liatris ligustylis -Strap style gayfeather

Liatris ligustylis button
The members of this genus do not have particularly attractive leaves. Therefore, excepting Liatris punctata and Liatris cylindracea due their size, these plants are best planted either between plants or behind plants. All the species mentioned are native to Canada, except for Liatris pycnostachya. L. aspera, L. cylindracea and L. spicata are native to Ontario.
Individual button of the flowerhead of Liatris ligustylis