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A closeup of Liatris aspera, a dry-loving perennial that looks similar to L. ligulistylis but blooms weeks later, in mid-September (zone 5). All Liatris varieties are quite versatile, with thin, needle-like leaves that gently mound near the soil surface.
Here's a swallowtail on Liatris pycnostachya. This flower blooms in midsummer (zone 5), lasting about a week, opening flowers from top to bottom on 3- to 4-foot-tall spikes. Medium clay soil and full sun are best, though there's certainly wiggle room on where it can go. For each Liatris species, a nice clump of about 1 square foot forms, providing several flowering stalks after a few years.
How to use it. Liatris can go anywhere. It can be planted in groups, of course, but works even better as a surprise accent scattered among contrasting plants like asters, grasses, coneflowers and bee balm.