Indian Grass

Sorghastrum nutans

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


Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for drying and preserving

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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


Provides winter interest

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

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

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


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

Denver, Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado

Wilmington, Delaware

Batavia, Illinois

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Bardstown, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Horton, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

O Fallon, Missouri

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Edmond, Oklahoma

Chester Springs, Pennsylvania

Arlington, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

Westfield, Wisconsin

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 30, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a very beautiful clump-forming grass in meadows here in Massachusetts, easy and adaptable. Not very conspicuous until the scapes shoot up in late summer bearing showy panicles of flowers. The flower scapes are upright, at least in full sun and low-fertility soils. Fall color is a luminous orange, and winter presence is excellent, buff/pink in color. Flower scapes remain upright through heavy snows till spring.

It is native to 43 states and 5 provinces. Declared endangered in Maine and "of special concern" in RI.


On Aug 31, 2015, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This is one of the major tall grasses of the Midwestern prairie along with Big Bluestem and Common Switchgrass, and it is also native to the East in native meadows. I've seen it looking good in various prairie or meadow restorations in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. In late spring to mid-summer it is a tall clump of broad blue-green blades. In late summer it sends up it tall flowering stalks. I have not grown it yet as a natural garden plant. It may need some staking in a garden and it does some self-sowing around as Big Bluestem does, but should remain as a clump. I find it to be beautiful warm-season perennial grass. It is sold by native plant nurseries, as Prairie Nursery in Westfield, WI or North Creek Nursery in southeast PA.


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.


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 l... read more

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.


On Nov 27, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

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