Little Bluestem in the Landscape


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    Little Bluestem in the Landscape


    Heidi Kratsch, Extension Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
     Graham Hunter, Research Associate, Center for Water Efficient Landscaping 

    November 2007 | HG/Native Plants/2007-01pr

    Schizachyrium scoparium

    Little Bluestem

    A single Little bluestem grass plant before floweringDescription: Perennial, warm season bunchgrass; blue-green foliage turning bronze in the fall. Flowers in mid to late summer; heads are tufted racemes. Plants can reach heights of up to 4 feet.

    This plant can be found naturally in desert surroundings, along waterways, and in rock crevices. This is a long-living plant that can be used ornamentally as a specimen, in a rock garden, or anywhere soil stabilization is desired.

    In winter, the seeds are favored by small birds.





    Cultural Requirements:

    Native habitat native throughout the U.S. to prairies,
    dry hills, woodlands
    Soil  well drained, low fertility, pH 5.0-8.4
    Cold Tolerance hardy to -38°F
    Drought Tolerance high
    Salt Tolerance low
    Sun/Shade Preference full sun
    Transplanting easy
    Propagation  seed or division
    Maintenance crop to no less than 8 inches in early
    fall or late spring
    Pest Problems no serious pest problems

    Landscape Value:

    Use in the Landscape                              specimen, soil stabilization, wildlife
    protection and food source
    Foliage showy, attractive fall color
    Inflorescence fine-textured
    Color chart showing seasonal color
    Fruit (seedheads) feathery appearance when mature
    Form  upright, tight, vertical lines
    Texture fine to medium
    Ultimate Size 3 to 4 feet
    Rate of Growth Moderate; full height in 2 years
    Plant Community  parkland, pinyon-juniper, cool-desert shrub
    Availability  “Utah’s Choice” selection
    Cultivars ‘Blaze’: compact; intense pink-orange fall
    color; ‘The Blues’: intense blue leaf color

    More Photos

    single little bluestem plant with seedheadsthree little bluestem plants with seedheads Photo credits: Graham Hunter


    Mee W., Barnes J., Kjelgren R., Sutton R., Cerny T., Johnson C. 2003. Waterwise: Native Plants for
    Intermountain Landscapes. Utah State University Press, Logan, UT.

    USDA Plants Database. 2007.

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