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Looking After Our Favorite Prairie Grass; Schizachyrium Scoparium



Looking After Our Favorite Prairie Grass; Schizachyrium Scoparium

Looking after our favorite prairie grass; schizachyrium scoparium isn’t as difficult as it seems. Also referred to as little bluestem plant, schizachyrium scoparium is a grass native to North America. While this ornamental plant is found in several different types of soil, it particularly adapts well to soil that is nearly infertile and properly drained.

Schizachyrium scoparium has silvery-blue leaves and stem. Once this plant is well-established, it shows immense resistance to droughts and is quite easy to maintain. Like a lot of other prairie grasses, this plant consists of a deep, extensive root system that allows it to thrive even on sites with poor soil conditions.

Here is all you need to know about looking after your favorite prairie grass; schizachyrium scoparium:

About Schizachyrium Scoparium

There are numerous native species of perennial grasses but little bluestem stands out as one of the most beautiful and low-maintenance natural denizens of rich meadows. This prairie grass doesn’t need a lot of care and it is incredibly unfussy about moisture and soil. It takes care of itself and puts on a colorful, exciting show every passing year without any intervention by homeowners and gardeners.


The botanical name of little bluestem plant is schizachyrium scoparium. This warm-season perennial grass has an elegant bluish-green color. Its fall foliage is rust colored and its seed heads are of a fluffy white shade. Schizachyrium scoparium is said to be found everywhere in the United States except for Oregon, Alaska and Nevada.

Growing this ornamental foliage plant in the landscape offers an architectural and dimensional foil for flowering and broad-leaved grass. In addition to this, little bluestem offers cover for wildlife and it allows gamebirds and songbirds to enjoy the seeds. This bunchgrass grows three feet tall in height and one foot in diameter. The bluish-green color of this grass deepens to a crisp rusty mahogany when fall arrives. The clumps remain the same throughout winter unless they get crushed due to excess snow.

Preferred Climate

Little bluestem prefers warmer regions with gritty, dry soil and rocky outcrops. However, it also grows as transition material when a cultivated land gets converted into a forest. When this grass grows, its leaves have hairy bases and they are flat but with maturity, they start rolling up. In native regions, little bluestem is considered to be a forage grass for wild grazers. Due to plugs and seeds, this grass can be easily grown in the landscape. Moreover, you can easily find the grass in any local store that sells wild plants.

Things to Consider When Growing Schizachyrium Scoparium

While the fluffy white seed heads of this colorful grass are an added attraction, they tend to disperse freely in wind. When the seeds are disrupted, they float to various areas of the garden. Once the spring rains arrive, these seeds get established and washed into the soil. Therefore, chances are that you might find little bluestem in your lawns, yards and other areas of your outdoor living area where it isn’t wanted.

In order to prevent this from happening, gardeners are required to cut the seed heads off the grass before they get a chance to mature. However, cutting the seeds off reduces the aesthetic beauty of schizachyrium scoparium. Little bluestem also grows side shoots. These side shoots can be separated from the parent and then transplanted. If you are growing this perennial grass in a container, you might need to divide it every year in order to prevent overcrowding.

Things to Consider When Growing Schizachyrium Scoparium

Looking After Our Favorite Prairie Grass; Schizachyrium Scoparium

When it comes to little bluestem plants, there aren’t any serious disease or pest threats involved. If you desire rapid establishment, you can plant plugs or sow your seeds in spring. While this perennial doesn’t require nitrogen application in the first year, it does benefit from high application of nitrogen fertilizer in subsequent years.

In initial establishment stages, little bluestem does require supplemental water.

However, it is also known to be extremely self-sufficient with the exception of severe droughts. This grass tends to wilt and become dull without adequate moisture; therefore, it is best to water it weekly in order to preserve its elegant appearance.

Weekly watering sessions are essential when you are growing little bluestem in containers. This grass is attractive and remarkably adaptable to any home landscapes.

  • The ideal USDA zones to plant schizachyrium scoparium are 3 to 9; areas that provide the necessary exposure to sunlight.
  • This grass can tolerate a variety of soils including clay. However, you need to provide good drainage as little bluestem isn’t capable of thriving in wetlands or shade.
  • As this grass is ideal to be grown in warm seasons, it can sometimes appear in late spring. The ideal temperature for little bluestem to thrive in is 80°F and hotter.
  • Little bluestem doesn’t need much water to thrive. Once it is established, it tolerates both high humidity and drought.
  • This plant is a self seeder.

Other Things to Know about Schizachyrium Scoparium

  • Schizachyrium scoparium is recommended to be used in rain gardens and it is an incredible choice for prairie-style gardens and meadows.
  • Little bluestem works well when planted with other flowering natives such as tall coreopsis, pale purple coneflower, Mohr’s rosinweed and orange coneflower, and asters like Michaelmas daisies.
  • As little bluestem has a vigorous root system, it is planted frequently in disturbed locations such as slopes, urban trail landscapes and river banks to prevent unwanted erosion.
  • Schizachyrium scoparium attracts pollinators such as butterflies but isn’t appealing to mammals like deer.
  • The flower stalks and dried foliage of schizachyrium scoparium should be cut regularly in order to make space for new spring greenery to grow.

With all the aforementioned information about looking after your favorite prairie grass; schizachyrium scoparium, we hope you found something worth your while! Grow this beautiful tufted grass in your lawns and yards to give it a lush bluish-green boost and completely transform its look!

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