Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Blue Oat Grass
Helictotrichon sempervirens

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Helictotrichon (hel-lik-toh-TRY-kon) (Info)
Species: sempervirens (sem-per-VY-renz) (Info)

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

19 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 18 photos.
Click here to view them all!


9 positives
3 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Jan 31, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is a reliable and handsome ornamental grass with soft, very blue foliage. I find it better than the smaller Blue Fescue grass that sometimes dies out or gets crappy. It is easy to dig up and it can be cut into sections with a sharp tool, though so far, in about ten years I have not had to divide and reset my three plants. I have never seen it self sow for over 10 years in my front yard in se Pennsylvania from its tiny flower heads. It stays blue-green for a long time or all season during winter, unless it is a really cold one. I cut the plant down close to the ground in March just before it regrows in early spring.

Positive LeafPeeper On Jun 24, 2013, LeafPeeper from Ferndale, WA wrote:

I've grown this plant for years. I've tried a couple of methods to maintain it including cutting it back in late winter each year or raking out the dead blades in the spring and again in the fall. The advantage of the raking is that the structure of the plant is maintained, the blue blades remain and only the dead blades come out easily. I do cut the oat tips back and neaten up the plant after it blooms but I always try to keep the structure of the plant. It is not invasive here and is extremely easy care except for the slight maintenance a couple of times a year. It's a great plant!

Positive veronicadengler On Jun 24, 2013, veronicadengler from Denville, NJ wrote:

Prickersnall, there are photos of Blue Oat Grass on the right side of the page. If you click on "click here to see all photos" you will see pictures of the seed head.

I don't think the plant needs any nutritional help to keep it blue. Mine is always blue and I rarely give it anything except mulch.

I am very surprised to see it labeled as invasive. I have grown it for about 10 years and have never seen it reseed itself. I have saved the seeds and started them indoors, with a low germination rate. I just use a lot of seeds when I want to grow more.

Neutral prickersnall On Jun 24, 2013, prickersnall from Madison, WI wrote:

I hope I can post a question...2 in fact:

What does the seedhead look like, and is any nutritional helpful in promoting...or retaining...optimal blue color in the leaves ?

Thanks for any info.

Neutral jpgreen On Feb 3, 2011, jpgreen from Roswell, NM (Zone 7a) wrote:

Will not tolerate clay even when kept dry.

Positive laughingswan On Jan 13, 2011, laughingswan from Kamloops, B.C.
Canada wrote:

To the Mtngardener in Colorado, Helictotrichon sempervirens (blue oat grass) is strictly clump-forming. That means it does not grow by underground runners, or rhizomes. The plant forms a neat clump. It does not spread aggressively throughout the garden. It will, however, self sow, and you may find seedlings coming up elsewhere if the conditions are favorable. If what you think is blue oat grass has been growing unchecked in your garden, it isn't blue oat grass. Perhaps it was mis-labeled, and you actually have a different plant. Elymus (or Leymus), wild rye, is of similar color, but different form and does indeed spread aggressively. If you have doubts, refer to my favorite reference on the topic, "The encyclopedia of grasses..." by Rick Darke, or a local expert.

Positive borde On May 15, 2010, borde from Whitehall, MT (Zone 4a) wrote:

I've had the plant about 8 years now, and it still looks lovely. We live in zone 4 and have an annual rainfall of 11" so like drought tolerant plants. This plant is supplied with extra watering by sprinkler, but not fussed over. I was surprised to hear that it was invasive, because in all that time we have had it it has only produced one natural offspring. I have never divided it because I have been wary of doing so and it never increases in width anyway. It's proabaly 2 feet wide and 36 " tall in bloom. Our soil is pretty unfertile decomposed granite; I occasionally add rabbit manure to the plants.

Negative Tim_in_Iowa On Jan 13, 2009, Tim_in_Iowa from Underwood, IA wrote:

I have tried to grow this plant several times (Iowa) with no luck. It lives for about two months gradually deteriorating until it finally dies. In some cases I've provided plenty of moisture and others I've let it stay dry....same results. I was thinking maybe it was the summer heat but I see that someone in San Francisco is having the same problem.

Negative Illig1 On Dec 16, 2008, Illig1 from Redwood City, CA wrote:

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the blue oat grass that I see looks fresh and blue when newly planted, and then ages very poorly, very quickly, regardless of the conditions. After a short time, it is almost always overwhelmed by dying, brown foliage which ruins the looks of this plant.

Neutral MtnGardener On Dec 15, 2008, MtnGardener from Longmont, CO (Zone 5a) wrote:

Blue oat grass in 5b is a beautiful grass, but be warned it is HIGHLY invasive in good growing conditions.Would recommend planting in a large pot to control it's growth. We did not plant it in a large pot, didn't think anything could grow like that in our weather and ended up pulling it out as it spread unchecked through the garden. Will be planting it again in spring but this time in a large pot to control it's growth.

Positive jonaflatooni On Dec 23, 2007, jonaflatooni from Port Orchard, WA wrote:

In addition to the previous comments blue oats grass does nicely in combination with blue fescue and other ornamental grasses and is a bit taller than blue fescue which gives it a good contrast.

The blades are more crisp and upright with a bit more sharpness to the edge than blue fescue.

Positive northgrass On Mar 6, 2005, northgrass from West Chazy, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

I have only good things to say about this grass.
Beautiful blue-green foliage.
Nice, neat mound.
Keeps its good looks all season.
Nice size in the garden, never overwhelms.
Of course, like most grass, it is very easy to grow.

Positive stevenova On Jul 3, 2003, stevenova from Newcastle
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

I have to agree that this is probably the best blue grass around for ornament apart from the equally superb Koeleria glauca.

Where I work, we have a large bed with various grasses including this one and it performs so consistently well (especially against the over rated blue festuca's) and never looks shabby.

Positive naturepatch On May 4, 2002, naturepatch from Morris, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Divides very easily. Tolerates part shade very well. Did not tolerate being flooded one year very well, but a snippet lived on to be divided into 5 clumps. Blooms in early May in zone 5. Nice blue green foliage. Very similar to blue fescue, but taller. One year the birds pulled all of the dead foliage out to use for nest material, but they ignored the blue fescue. Can't beat it for an ornamental grass.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

El Sobrante, California
Groveland-big Oak Flat, California
Los Angeles, California
Martinez, California
Salinas, California
Santa Rosa, California
Denver, Colorado (2 reports)
Evanston, Illinois
South Bend, Indiana
Louisville, Kentucky
Middle River, Maryland
Quincy, Massachusetts
Mason, Michigan
Whitehall, Montana
Reno, Nevada
Denville, New Jersey
Haddonfield, New Jersey
Enid, Oklahoma
Harrah, Oklahoma
Altamont, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Rowlett, Texas
Pleasant Grove, Utah
Riverton, Utah
Santaquin, Utah
Tremonton, Utah
Essex Junction, Vermont
Keller, Virginia
Bellingham, Washington
East Port Orchard, Washington
Ferndale, Washington
Valleyford, Washington
White Center, Washington
Beverly, West Virginia
Casper, Wyoming

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