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Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem)

Big Blue Stem, Big Bluestem, Turkeyfoot

Andropogon gerardii, Big Blue Stem, Big Bluestem, Ornamental Grass

Appealing in most seasons, Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem) is a warm-season perennial grass forming an upright clump of stems with flattened leaves. Emerging blue-green in spring, the foliage matures to green as the season progress, turning rich orange and coppery-red, sometimes with lavender tints, in the fall. Elegant tall flowering stems rise in late summer above the foliage bearing glossy deep purple, 3-parted, finger-like flower clusters, resembling turkey feet (hence the common name). Perfect for providing height and color to the garden, Big Bluestem is drought tolerant, requires very little care, is virtually disease and pest free, and provides months of interest. This long-lived architectural grass has a variety of uses, including screening, naturalizing, restoring prairies, and nesting materials for birds and mammals.

  • Grows in a dense clump up to 4-6 ft. tall (120-180 cm) and 2-3 ft. across (60-90 cm). Freely self-seeds when happy.
  • Performs best in full sun in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils. This plant is not fussy about soils and tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, including dry soils. Lean to average soils are best, as too much fertility will cause the plants to be more open and weak in habit.
  • Excellent choice for drought-prone gardens, this architectural grass is perfect for the back of borders, prairie plantings, or banks and slopes for erosion control.
  • No serious pest or disease issues. Deer resistant but attracts birds and butterflies.
  • May be cut back or mowed in late winter (not during the growing season).
  • Propagate by seed, root division.
  • Native to North America, Mexico.

Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses
Plant Family Poaceae
Common names Bluestem, Big Bluestem
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 4' - 6'
(120cm - 180cm)
Spread 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spacing 36" (90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Showy
Native Plants United States, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Southeast, Southwest, Northeast, Midwest, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Colorado
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Dry Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
How Many Plants
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Recommended Companion Plants

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
Liatris spicata (Blazing Star)
Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)
Dalea purpurea (Purple Prairie Clover)
Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan)
Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver’s Root)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 4 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses
Plant Family Poaceae
Common names Bluestem, Big Bluestem
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 4' - 6'
(120cm - 180cm)
Spread 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spacing 36" (90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Showy
Native Plants United States, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Southeast, Southwest, Northeast, Midwest, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Colorado
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Dry Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow
How Many Plants
Do I Need?

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