When and how to plant liatris bulbs: expert advice to get it right

Find out how to plant liatris bulbs and you can add height to your borders with this easy-to-grow plant

Liatris spicata / Blazing star
(Image credit: Photos from Japan, Asia and othe of the world/ Getty)

Wondering when and how to plant liatris bulbs? Liatris is an attractive plant with bottlebrush-shaped blooms that is native to Eastern North America. They bloom throughout the summer and provide attractive height in borders. Planting bulbs at the correct time of year is essential for success. 

The good news is that liatris requires little care once established. Plant it according to this expert advice and enjoy its distinctive flowers year after year.

Expert tips for how to plant liatris bulbs

Liatris flowers

(Image credit: mikroman6/ Getty)

Lindsey Hyland, Founder of Urban Organic Yield recommends planting liatris 'in a pot or directly into the ground. If you are growing them in your yard, put 2-3 inches of mulch on top of the ground before planting because they need a lot of moisture.'

The key to success with liatris is well-draining soil, 'fluffy and not compacted.' Jason White, CEO and Managing Editor at All About Gardening, also advises to 'avoid areas in your garden where water tends to pool or create a puddle after a rain shower. Water-logged soil is not good for your liatris because this will rot the root of your plant.'

Ethan Howell, Co-Owner of Florida Environmental gives more detailed instructions for the correct planting of liatris bulbs. 

  1. 'First, you must 'loosen the soil to an 8-inch depth and work in 1-2in layers of organic materials, such as old compost or manure. If necessary, amend the soil with sand or fine grit to promote drainage.' 
  2. 'Make a planting hole twice as wide as the root ball and slightly deeper. Add some bone meal to the mix.'
  3. 'Fill in the hole with the plants, firm them in place, and allow time for the water to settle before watering on a regular basis until the plant is established.'

Voila, your bulbs are planted and you can expect liatris flowers next year. Following general rules for planting bulbs, such as not planting too few of them, is also important.

When to plant liatris bulbs

Liatris spicata / Blazing star

(Image credit: Photos from Japan, Asia and othe of the world/ Getty)

As is the case with how to plant tulips, Lindsey Hyland, says that 'liatris bulbs are planted in the fall. The best time to plant liatris is in October, after the first frost. Temperatures have to be below 60˚F for them to grow correctly.'

Ethan Howell prefers planting his liatris bulbs in early spring, although he points out that 'I only got a few flowers the first year I planted them.' In subsequent years, however, you will get more flowers from bulbs that had been planted in the spring. 

Technically, you can plant liatris bulbs at any point during the cold season, but avoid days with hard frosts. 

If you want to know about planting other types of bulbs, our guides on how to plant daffodil bulbs and how to plant allium bulbs have plenty of tips. 

What are the common problems when growing liatris?

The most common problem is to do with choosing an incorrect spot in the garden for liatris. They like a sunny spot and will not thrive in overly a shady position. Although liatris likes a lot of moisture when getting established, it won't thrive in a waterlogged spot. 

You should also avoid cramming too many bulbs close together, as this will make your liatris prone to diseases such as powdery mildew. Allow plenty of space between plants to make sure they get enough air circulation. 

Other than that, as these are one of the best low maintenance plants, there's not much else you will need to do to enjoy these pretty blooms. 

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.