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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 12:22 PM

Garden of Edith -- Luring in the Wildlife

Garden of Edith -- Luring in the Wildlife
by Edith Isidoro-Mills -- Not all flowering bulbs are fall planted.  I just finished planting bulbs that I expect to see flowering starting in July and fading in September.  Even though their showy flowers ended in September, they provided me with an interesting display as they dried and the birds started to feed on the seeds. The flower bulbs I planted are Liatris spicata commonly known as Blazing Star or Prairie Gay Feather.  It is native to North American prairies and meadows east of the Rocky Mountains.  Even though it isn't native to Nevada, with a sandy soil and regular water this bulb thrives in my garden. The butterflies and hummingbirds frequented the blooms on my Blazing Star all for most of the summer.  When the blooms dried up and seed was mature on the stalks, the birds visited most of the fall and winter.  Even better, the rabbits and deer avoided these flowers. Some online nurseries and gardening blogs say Blazing Star prefers acid soils but in my experience, it tolerates a wide range of pH because it did well in my pH 7-8 garden soil and my water is also pH 7-8.  These same blogs and nurseries say Blazing Star requires good drainage and my garden soil is sandy and drains well. Blazing Star doesn't need any fertilizer and too much fertilizer can make the stalks weak cause them to fall over. Heavy wet soils will also cause the stalks to fall over. For a bulb that has a stalk with many flowers on it, Blazing Star is unusual.  Normally, flowering stalks start blooming from the bottom to the top but Blazing Star starts flowering from the top. The flowers closest to the base of the plant are the last to open. In its native habitat consisting of open prairie or open meadow, Blazing Star normally gets full sun.  I've tried planting it in the shade and found that it doesn't do as well there so if you decide to plant Blazing Star find a sunny, sandy location. I didn't cut any of my Blazing Star for flower arrangements but it is supposed to be a good cut flower with a long shelf life. Florists in the 1980's and 1990's fell in love with this flower and used everywhere.  Instead of cutting it, I chose to let it entertain me with the wildlife it attracted. You can buy bulbs of Blazing Star in the spring from online nurseries that sell bulbs.  I have not seen them sold in local garden center or nurseries.  You can also buy blazing star seed online from companies that sell native seed.  However, I have not had much success getting it to germinate.  The seed needs special treatment and it is much easier to establish Blazing Star by planting it as a bulb.    Never miss a meeting or community event – keep an eye on the community calendar at https://www.thefallonpost.org/events/ If you like what we’re doing, please support our effort to provide local, independent news and contribute to The Fallon Post, your online news source for all things Fallon.