Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium
Little bluestem offers year-round interest. This ornamental grass has graceful, swaying blades in spring and summer, followed by tall flower spikes in summer that evolve into fluffy plumes of seed heads that catch the light.
Little bluestem requires full sun and is tolerant of almost any soil type except those with inadequate drainage; the soil must be well drained. This ornamental plant is known to self-seed readily. Propagate it by both seed and division.
Little bluestem is a welcome addition to xeriscape gardens and naturalized areas. It also works well in mixed borders and more contemporary settings.
S. scoparium is a clump-forming grass. It produces light green, narrow, blade-like leaves 12–16" in length that become darker with maturity. The leaves are of a medium texture, somewhat hairy and soft to the touch. Flower spikes emerge through the foliage, supported by stems that rise high above the leaves. Decorative, fluffy plumes of ripening seedheads range in color from bronze to bright orange. ‘Blaze’ is similar in form but displays more intense fall color, from reddish purple to orangey pink.
Also called: prairie beard grass
Features: form; habit; decorative foliage and seed heads; winter interest
Hardiness: zones 3–8
Notes: Little bluestem is drought tolerant but benefits from a little summer watering in more arid regions.