Schizachyrium scoparium - Little
Bluestem, Prairie Beard Grass
aka Andropogon scoparius
Many ornamental grasses make stunning displays when massed on a large
scale. This is particularly true when using Little Bluestem. A mass
planting will undulate in the breeze. A group is also excellent as a
transition plant when one needs to move from a formal area to a natural
field or meadow.
The fine foliage and distinctive upright flowers pass through an array
of colour changes in the autumn after frost. Little Bluestem retires
to shades of red or purple and remains showy into winter. Be sure to
cut the dried flowers for a winter bouquet. Place the vase in front
of a window so the delicate flowers will be backlit.
Description: warm season; clump forming
Foliage is grey-green; 7mm (1/4") wide; 100 cm (40") in height
Flowers late July to Sept; 100-120 cm (40-48') tall
Ideal conditions: full sun; well drained
soil; excessive moisture and fertile soil will cause the tall flower
stems to fall over
Coldest zone: 3 (find your
zone; further info on plant hardiness)
Partner with: Scrophularia,
amarum 'Dewey Blue'
Season of interest: August to winter
Native to: prairies and open woods, dry fields and
hills of North America
Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once
every 2 weeks); further info
Recommended spacing between plants: 45-90 cm (18-36")
why such a difference?
When to divide: when it shows signs of
life in the spring, continuing until the new growth is about
12" tall; only in the spring (further
info on dividing grasses)
When to plant or transplant: plant bare root plants
only in late spring to early summer, when the soil
is warm, about the same time you plant your bean or corn
seeds. The roots will grow only in warm soil. Planting too
early in the spring may cause the roots to rot. Similar
story in the fall when the roots may not grow enough to
establish before the cold and wet of winter, resulting in
the demise of the plant.
When to cut back: before the new growth
starts to appear, but after the cold weather is over. Cut
back to about 3-4" from the crown of the plant.
Pronounced: Schizachyrium (skits-ah-KEER-ee-um)
Menu of ornamental grasses
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