Little Bluestem

Downingtown, PA

My favorite ornamental grass is Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, native to much of eastern North America. It is has blue-green foliage color that can be quite blue and it develops an orange autumn color. There are some cultivars selected for more blue color as 'The Blues'.The first two shots are a planting at the Gaylord building in Lockport, Illinois in August of 2013. The next three are in my yard of rounded clumps in June, fall color in October, and winter appearance in January. It is easy to grow and dig up to move or transplant if necessary. It is soft and feels good. They start in spring as rounded clumps and in early July send up their flowering grass stalks to get about 4 feet high. They often fall over some later in summer, but in autumn when they get more dry they straighten up again and hold up well through the winter. I like to cut away the tops of the plants and take them in as dried flower stuff or burn them in the vegetable garden in March. I then like to burn the stubble that is low to the ground to renew them also in March.

Thumbnail by Rickwebb Thumbnail by Rickwebb Thumbnail by Rickwebb Thumbnail by Rickwebb Thumbnail by Rickwebb
Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Those photos are really helpful - thanks! They've helped me identify a wandering grass I was unsure of!

Downingtown, PA

Thanks! Great!

Stroudsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

What a nice grass! I'm going to look for some. I love blue foliage.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Rick: How tall does this plant get? According to High Country Gardens, the cultivar 'Blaze' gets 3' X 15".
And, in the third picture, are there two clumps with, what looks like, a phlox?
Very nice pictures, really gives you a good account of this plant.
Thanks for sharing.
This is Schizachyrium scoparium which is a Little Blue Stem. I understand there's a Big Blue Stem as well. The scientific name is Andropogon gerardii. You would think they would both be in the same Genus when they are both called "Blue Stem". This Andropogon gerardii 'Windwalker' gets 84" X 30" according to High Country Gardens.

Downingtown, PA

Little Bluestem is about 3 feet high when it is a rounded mound in May-June, but it gets about 4 to 5 feet high when the flower stalks appear and mature starting in late July. There are several cultivars of which a few may be shorter. I have a few of "The Blues' that is regular height. The perennial in the third photo is a Kobold Gayfeather, Liatris spicata. The scientific name of this species used to be Andropogon scoparius and I think it should still be so, but most botanists are "splitters" and not "lumpers' like me. I loaded some photos of the Big species in Daves Garden too.

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