Plant DetailShow Menu

Bluestem Andropogon ternarius

Phonetic Spelling
an-dro-POH-gon tern-AR-ee-us
Description

Splitbeard Bluestem is a native ornamental warm-season perennial bunchgrass in the Poaceae family. It grows up to 3 feet tall with a 2-foot spread. It is found in meadows, plains and in open woodlands often in sandy soil. It grows in full sun but can tolerate some shade. Well-drained soil as a sandy loam with low fertility is its preference.

Summer foliage is a silvery blue-green turning copper, red, and bronze in the fall. From late summer through fall, fluffy, silver seed heads catch the sun. Looks beautiful in many settings including meadows, cottage gardens, woodland areas or planted en masse.

Fire Risk: This plant has an extreme flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home.  Select plants with a low flammability rating for the sites nearest your home.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fall color#wildlife plant#cover plant#winter interest#fall interest#ornamental grass#cottage garden#meadow#dried flowers#small mammals#food source#fire#extreme flammability#NC native#broomstraw#native garden#shimmer#native ornamental grass#larval host plant#food source winter#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#pollinator garden#food soruce hard mast fruit#audubon#common wood-nymph butterfly#various skipper butterflies
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#fall color#wildlife plant#cover plant#winter interest#fall interest#ornamental grass#cottage garden#meadow#dried flowers#small mammals#food source#fire#extreme flammability#NC native#broomstraw#native garden#shimmer#native ornamental grass#larval host plant#food source winter#food source fall#food source herbage#bird friendly#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#pollinator garden#food soruce hard mast fruit#audubon#common wood-nymph butterfly#various skipper butterflies
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Andropogon
    Species:
    ternarius
    Family:
    Poaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Adropogons were historically usedĀ for broom straw. Used for cattle grazing.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & E. U.S.A. to NE. Mexico
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , OK , SC , TN , TX , VA
    Fire Risk Rating:
    extreme flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Andropogon supports Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala) larvae which have one brood from late May to October. Adult Common Wood-Nymph butterflies feed on rotting fruit and flower nectar. This plant also supports various Skipper larvae. Provides excellent cover year-round. Seeds are eaten by songbirds and small mammals.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Nesting
    Wind Shimmer
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Heat and drought tolerant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Ornamental Grasses and Sedges
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Erect
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Caryopsis
    Fruit Description:
    Seed heads are fluffy, silvery and shimmer in the wind from October to November.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gray/Silver
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Dried
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Description:
    The inflorescence has three to six pairs of racemes about 2 inches long with a white tuft of hair at the base. Flowers bloom from September to October.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Sheath
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The flat leaves are 8-18 inches long and very narrow at 2-4 mm wide. Both the leaves and sheaths are often densely hairy and have a waxy silver appearance. They develop a blue cast with age and turn copper or red in the fall.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are long, slender, erect and often purplish to reddish-green with green upper sheaths.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Near Septic
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Fairy Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil