There is an ornamental grass that is threatening to steal my heart away from Panicum ‘Northwind’. I know, scandalous. But the heart wants what the heart wants. And right now the heart is being tugged towards Little bluestem. Or if we’re being fancy, Schizachyrium scoparium.
I’ve even gone so far as to share my love for her on Instagram:
I realize I’m late to the party with Little bluestem. And I’m fully aware it was one of the dominant grasses in the Tallgrass Prairie in the central U.S of yesteryear and that only 4% or so remains to this day.
But better late than never, right?
I guess I never fully realized just how easily it fits into the home garden. I’m up to three right now and will probably divide one of those in spring.
Some Little bluestem info:
- Plant hardiness zone 3-9
- Mature size is 4′ x 2′
- Blooms starting in August and lasts into November here in zone 6B.
- Requires full sun for best growth and becomes a bit floppy in partial shade.
- Soil should range from dry to medium but mine have been ok to date in somewhat wet soil.
- Drought tolerant and thrives in disturbed soils. Perfect for use on banks and slopes for erosion control.
- An underrated feature, as is the case with so many ornamental grasses, is the food and shelter it provides to wildlife like birds and butterflies.
Some other info, happily accompanied by photos:
Little bluestem is a warm season grass and typically looks like this for me by early June:
And by mid-summer, the pastel colors of Little bluestem are killer, especially when properly back lit by the late day sun:
As mentioned previously, this native grass starts blooming in August and is covered in silvery white seedheads. Beautiful:
By late summer, as the flowers fade, the grass takes on a coppery appearance which looks right at home in the fall garden. Yum:
By mid-November or so, as with most ornamental grasses, Little bluestem transforms into a buff color where it remains that way until it is cut down in spring (Which you should do by the way. Please don’t cut your grasses down in fall or winter. Thanks.)
Are you growing this in your garden? What are your thoughts?