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Sunday - May 25, 2008

From: Washington, DC
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Planting, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Transplant shock in Liatris spicata
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I bought a liatris spicata start a month ago, and transplanted it into my front yard (full sun, clay soil, moist due to all the rain recently). The plant immediately wilted so I transplanted it in a pot filled with organic potting soil on the porch, in full sun again. The plant perked up for a week, and then started wilting again and now appears to be close to death. The weather has been a bit cool, but usually no colder than 50 degrees at night, and up to 70 during the day. Any idea why my plant is not happy? Could it be some sort of insect, or too much rain?

ANSWER:

Looks like your Liatris spicata (dense blazing star) has experienced a double case of transplant shock. The first time, a small "start" might have needed a little more shade right at first, and clay soil does not drain well, which this plant needs. So, transplanting it to the pot probably was a good idea, but it might have just been too much all at once. It is native to the Eastern United States, so it should be fine in Washington, DC; hopefully, it just needs some first aid. To begin with, move that pot into an area where it will get morning sun and not so much afternoon sun, at least at first. Then, trim off about one-half to one-third of the upper structure of the plant, leaving still-vigorous green leaves on the lower part, in order to provide nutrition for the plant. Don't fertilize until the plant has recovered. Keep the soil in the pot moist but, again, make sure it is draining well. This plant is found naturally in moist woodland openings, and marsh edges so you need to try to emulate those conditions. It will tolerate dryness more when it is established. You may not get much in blooms this year, but since it grows from a bulb that will possibly help to carry it over and be more vital next year. This article from North Carolina State University Extension can give you more information.

 

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