Blazing star: Liatris spicata
Liatris spicata is native to central and eastern North America. It is not immediately apparent that L. spicata is a member of the Compositae family because its flowers are so different. Also known as button snakeroot, this low-growing herbaceous perennial forms basal tufts of grass-like leaves, the leaves on the stems becoming increasingly narrow towards the top. The red-violet, white or pink flowers, borne in tall spikes, open from the top downwards and attract many butterflies and bees. It is a robust plant that will grow in any fertile. It benefits from an application of fertilizer in spring. Although it prefers dry conditions, it will also adapt to moist growing conditions. It is an undemanding perennial that is ideal for growing along terrace walls and in containers on balconies. It should be cut back vigorously in winter and can be propagated from seed in spring.