Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Indian Grass
Sorghastrum nutans

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sorghastrum (sor-GAS-trum) (Info)
Species: nutans (NUT-ans) (Info)

7 vendors have this plant for sale.

5 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

18-24 in. (45-60 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


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds
Flowers are good for drying and preserving
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive learningplanter On Jul 15, 2010, learningplanter from Milan, MI wrote:

Jackson, Michigan. Zone 5. I started Indian Grass indoors from seed. It survived the Michigan winter in my garden. My soil is very sandy. The plant is very slow to sprout in the spring. Growth does not speed up until summer. Informal and naturalized appearance. Not much of a vertical grass.

Positive dkm65 On Jul 4, 2007, dkm65 from Cedar Falls, IA (Zone 4b) wrote:

Native to the tallgrass prairie region of the U.S., this is probably my favorite tall prairie grass for looks. It is especially nice in the fall and winter because of the attractive seed heads, and I highly recommend you don't cut it back before spring because of its winter interest. I don't think you need pay for a named cultivar as the species is impressive IMO.

It likes full sun, and will tolerate all but the wettest conditions (does best on well-drained mesic to dry soil though). It grows easily from seed, with no pre-treatment necessary. It ranges from about 4' - 6' tall (although I've seen it about 7' in a prairie remnant), so it may look a bit odd in a really small space. Very drought tolerant.

I doubt this could be a noxious or invasive weed, at least in the U.S., as it is native in every state in the lower 48 from Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico east. It is also listed as endangered in Maine. According to the USDA plant database, it is not on any state's noxious weed list.

Editor's Note The USDA's PLANTS Database and Southern Weed Science Society list this plant as "weedy or invasive." It is also noted as endangered in other areas.
Neutral frostweed On Nov 27, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Indian Grass Sorghastrum nutans is native to Texas and other States.


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

Denver, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Bardstown, Kentucky
Horton, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
O Fallon, Missouri
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Edmond, Oklahoma
Arlington, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

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