The Liatris botanical genus is made up of approximately 40 individual species of herbaceous perennial plants that are known by the common names blazing star and gay feather. These attractive ornamental plants feature narrow, lance-shaped leaves and fluffy, purple blossoms that bloom on tall flower spikes from early summer through fall. Blazing star plants appreciate occasional deadheading to remove spent blossoms and flower spikes. In addition to keeping blazing star looking great all season long, deadheading also encourages the plant to produce another round of showy blossoms.
Use the appropriate tools when deadheading and pruning your garden plants to reduce the pruning stress that they experience. Herbaceous plants such as blazing star can be deadheaded and pruned with a simple pair of garden shears. Bacteria and fungal spores from botanical diseases can live on the blades of your shears long after you've pruned infected plants. Unless your garden shears are new, sharpen and sterilize them before use to prevent the spread of harmful diseases.
The unique blossoms on blazing star's flower spikes open from top to bottom. By the time the blossoms at the bottom of the flower spikes have opened, the ones at the top are usually spent and unattractive. Use the garden shears to cut off the top, spent portions of the flower spikes to help your blazing stars maintain an attractive appearance. If you don't mind leaving a few spent blossoms on your blazing star, you can wait and cut the entire flower spike down to the top of the plant's foliage once all the blossoms on the spike have faded.
Stimulating Additional Blooms
Blazing star plants will often bloom again once they've been deadheaded. To ensure that your plant has everything it needs to produce another round of flower spikes, fertilize and water the plant after deadheading. Feed blazing star with a half-strength application of a high-phosphorus "bloom booster" fertilizer according to label directions. Water your blazing star plant immediately after fertilizing to dilute the fertilizer application and prevent the plant's roots from burning.
Pruning your blazing star plant at the end of its growing season helps to simulate more vigorous growth the following season. Wait to prune your plant in the fall, once it has stopped blooming and all the blossoms on its flower spikes have faded. Cut all of the flower spikes down to the top of the foliage using your garden shears. Collect and dispose of the pruned flower spikes; if left on the ground at the base of the plant, they may attract unwanted insect activity.
Megan Mattingly-Arthur has been writing professionally since 1998. She has contributed to various publications, including "Teen Voices" and "Positive Teens" magazines, as well as a book, "The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published." Mattingly-Arthur is studying travel and tourism through Penn Foster Career School.