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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - July 02, 2009

From: Syracuse, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Why will my blazing stars not bloom in Syracuse New York?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I have two purple blazing star plants on the west side of my house, about 4 feet apart. They have bloomed the past two summers. This year, one is ready to bloom, but the other has no stalks that will bloom. It just has the leaves, but no stalks forming. What happened? Should I get a new plant? Will it bloom next year?

ANSWER:

"Blazing star" is a part of the common  name of 19 different plants in our Native Plant Datbase. Since you are writing from New York, Mr. Smarty Plants is guessing that you may have Liatris spicata (dense blazing star). Clicking on this link brings up its NPIN page where we can learn some things about this plant such as; its a perennial growing from 3 to 6 ft., it likes full sun, mosit soil, and slightly acidic soil (pH 6.8), and it attracts song birds and humming birds.

Since  your blazing stars were flowering and now they are not, you need to try to determine what has changed; are they getting less sun light?  Has the amount of watering changed?  Has the pH of the soil changed? All of these can affect flowering.

What about fertilization? Flowering is also affected by the ratio of Nitrogen to Phosphorus in the soil. If the nitrogen is higher than phosphorus, flowering is inhibited in many plants. If you use regular lawn fertiliser in your flower bed, or if lawn fertilizer accidently gets into the flower bed while you are fertilizing the lawn, the Nitrogen/Phosphorus ratio can get out of balance. This article from Gardening-Advisor  has some good advice about fertilizers and fertilizing.

For some help closer to home, you may want to contact the folks at the Onodaga County Office of Cornell Cooperative Extension.


Liatris spicata

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

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