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Little Bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Andropogon scoparius
Phonetic Spelling
ski-za-KRY-ee-um sko-PAIR-ee-um
Description

A native ornamental grass (Poaceae) with attractive blue-green foliage.  Purplish bronze seed heads and yellow-orange leaves make for great fall interest in the landscape.  It is attractive planted en masse and would make an excellent addition to a rain garden. It performs best in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun.  However, it does tolerate a wide range of soil conditions including infertility and clay.  It has drought resistance once established. It is well-adapted to southern climates as it tolerates high heat and humidity. It is found naturally in a wide range of moist to dry habitats. Cut back to the ground in early spring to promote new attractive growth. There are many cultivars available, which means it can be difficult to find the straight species in trade.

Little Bluestem is a perennial, warm-season grass that may grow to 5 feet. The leaves and stems frequently have a bluish cast in summer, while the fall color is a very warm copper that does not fade throughout winter. 

Seasons of Interest:

     Leaves: Summer/Fall/Winter; Bloom: Late Summer/Fall; Fruit/Seed/Nut: Fall/Winter

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  This plant suffers from too much mulch near the crown.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blue Heaven'
  • 'The Blues'
'Blue Heaven', 'The Blues'
Tags:
#fall color#heat tolerant#wildlife plant#cover plant#low maintenance#winter interest#cottage garden#air pollution tolerant#black walnut#coastal#grass#small mammals#ncemgva2018#food source#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#NC native#deer resistant#borders#pollinator plant#native ornamental grass#larval host plant#food source winter#food source fall#food source herbage#humidity tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Blue Heaven'
  • 'The Blues'
'Blue Heaven', 'The Blues'
Tags:
#fall color#heat tolerant#wildlife plant#cover plant#low maintenance#winter interest#cottage garden#air pollution tolerant#black walnut#coastal#grass#small mammals#ncemgva2018#food source#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#NC native#deer resistant#borders#pollinator plant#native ornamental grass#larval host plant#food source winter#food source fall#food source herbage#humidity tolerant#rocky soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Schizachyrium
    Species:
    scoparium
    Family:
    Poaceae
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Wildlife Value:
    Provides excellent cover year round. Host plant for Common Wood-Nymph and various skipper species of butterfly. Seeds are eaten by songbirds and small mammals.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Deer resistance is high.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 6 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Ornamental Grasses and Sedges
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Description:
    Purple-bronze seed heads give excellent fall and winter interest. Fruits are available July-November.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    Purple-bronze racemes form above the clump of leaves and appear in August. Blooms from June-October.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Orange
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Leaf Type:
    Sheath
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Filiform
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Flat linaer leaves 1/4" wide form attractive clumps of light blue at the base turn orange-yellow in fall and persist into winter giving intrest to the landscape.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Heat
    Humidity
    Pollution