University of Maryland Extension

Little Bluestem

Ellen Nibali
Photo by Sara Tangren

Photo by Sara Tangren

Schizachyrium scoparium (Andropogon scoparius)

This native grass is coming on strong as gardeners switch to plants both ornamental and beneficial.  In fall, its bluish blades give way to bright gold and reddish tones.  Don’t cut back this ornamental grass before winter and it will reward you with wispy charm through the bleak cold months, especially where sunlight beams through its silvery seed heads.  Little bluestem is a Maryland native that puts up with lousy or dry soil, loam or sand.  It needs full sun, growing to a clump 1 ½-4 feet tall, flowering from August to October.  During harsh winter weather, foliage provides good cover for wildlife. Cultivars are available, e.g. ‘Carousel’ which offers colorful summer foliage.

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