Big Bluestem

Big Bluestem, Andropogon

This native grass is found growing naturally in almost every state and was historically a prominent part of both tall- and short-grass prairies. Although it is no longer as prevalent in its native habitat, it will shine in any Texas garden.


Big bluestem prefers to grow in full sun. The soil should be light, low in fertility and very well drained.

This ornamental grass has a considerable tolerance for drought conditions, and excessive moisture can be a detriment. However, plants grown with little water often remain shorter in height and more compact in form than plants grown with adequate moisture.


The colorful foliage and flower heads are a great addition to the back of a mixed perennial and shrub border. Big bluestem also works well in a naturalized garden setting.


A. gerardii forms into a dense clump of arching, bluish green leaves that grow up to 5' in length or more and turn bronze in fall. Erect stems supporting deep red-purple flowers emerge in fall, followed by distinctive three-branched seed heads.

Features: colorful foliage, flowers and seed heads; form; habit

Height: 4–6'

Spread: 2–3'

Hardiness: zones 4–10

Notes: Big bluestem is an integral part of prairie grassland restorations.

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