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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

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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Monday - October 05, 2009

From: Lexington, KY
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Propagation, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Cold hardiness of Liatris bulbs
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I live in Lexington KY - This spring I planted Liatris or Blazing Stars. Should I take up the bulbs and replant in spring or leave them in the ground?

ANSWER:

Great plant choice!!  Liatris is a tough, drought tolerant plant that attracts butterflies (but not deer) and really stands out in a perennial bed.

Definitely leave it in the ground ... there are many species of Liatris native to North America with a very broad range.  It is likely that your plant is the popular Liatris spicata (dense blazing star) which is native from Florida to Quebec and all the states in between.

However, it is a bit late to emerge in the spring and in my experience in Zone 4 there are just a few tufts visible above ground when the snow melts ... so leave the tag in and you won't accidentally destroy it during enthusiastic spring planting! Each year it will put up more flower stalks and the bulb clump can be divided every few years.  Be sure it is planted in a spot with good drainage ... the bulb will rot in wet soil.

 

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