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Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Brush Strokes’ (Little Bluestem)

Little Bluestem 'Brush Strokes', Blue Stem 'Brush Strokes', Prairie Beardgrass 'Brush Strokes', Prairie Beard Grass 'Brush Strokes'

Schizachyrium scoparium Brush Strokes, Little Bluestem Brush Strokes, Blue Stem Brush Strokes, Broom Grass Brush Strokes, Native Grass
Schizachyrium scoparium Brush Strokes, Little Bluestem Brush Strokes, Blue Stem Brush Strokes, Broom Grass Brush Strokes, Native Grass

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Brush Strokes’ is an ornamental grass cultivar notable for its unique visual characteristics and adaptability, making it an appealing choice for various landscape settings.

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Brush Strokes’: An In-depth Look

‘Brush Strokes’ is known for its variegated foliage, featuring streaks and “brush strokes” of powdery blue, turning wide-red. This cultivar stands out for its artistic, painterly appearance.

Native: This cultivar, like its parent species, is native to North America, flourishing in prairies and open woodlands.

Plant Type and Habit: It is a perennial grass with an upright, clumping growth habit, contributing both structure and texture to garden designs.

Size: ‘Brush Strokes’ typically reaches about 32-36 inches in height (80-90 cm) and 22-26 inches in width (55-65 cm), making it a moderately-sized ornamental grass.

Flowers: It produces airy, delicate flowers in late summer, adding a fine-textured visual interest. The flowers mature into small seed heads providing winter interest and wildlife food.

Bloom Time: Flowering occurs in late summer to early fall.

Foliage: The foliage is distinctive for its unique structure and color transitions throughout the seasons. This variety of Little Bluestem features stems that are powder blue in color, reminiscent of the strokes of a paintbrush. These stems are not only visually striking but also exhibit a graceful flexibility, bending with the wind and then returning to their upright position, adding a dynamic element to the garden.

As the seasons change, particularly in early fall, the color of the stems shifts to a rich wine-red. This dramatic transformation adds significant visual interest to the landscape, providing a warm and vibrant contrast to the more muted tones often found in autumn gardens. The transition from the soft powder blue of summer to the deep wine-red of fall makes ‘Brush Strokes’ a standout selection for adding seasonal interest.

In addition to its color changes, ‘Brush Strokes’ is noted for its fine texture, which complements its structural form. The upright and resilient nature of the stems, combined with their changing colors, makes this cultivar an excellent choice for gardeners looking to incorporate native perennial grasses into their landscapes. The grass’s ability to provide winter interest when left standing adds to its appeal, offering beauty and structure even in the dormant season.

Uses: Ideal for borders, native gardens, mass plantings, and as a specimen plant, offering both aesthetic and ecological benefits.

Hardiness: Little Bluestem is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9, showcasing its adaptability to a wide range of climates.

Wildlife: Little Bluestem acts as a larval host to nine skipper species, including the common wood nymph (Cercyonis pegala), Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae), Leonard’s skipper (Hesperia leonardus), and more. It also offers overwintering shelter for various insects and wildlife. Female bumblebee queens nest at the base of these grasses for protection until spring emergence. Its seeds are especially attractive to songbirds in the winter.

Toxicity: It is not known to be toxic to humans or pets, making it a safe choice for gardens.

Deer and Rabbit: This grass is generally resistant to deer and rabbits, which tend to avoid it due to its texture and taste.

Drought: Little Bluestem is highly drought-tolerant once established, making it an excellent choice for xeriscaping and water-conserving landscapes.

Invasiveness: This cultivar is not considered invasive and is well-behaved in garden settings.

Benefits: It offers a long season of visual interest with its variegated foliage, is low maintenance, provides ecological benefits by supporting wildlife, and is suitable for various landscape designs.

Little Bluestem Growing Tips

Light: Prefers full sun for optimal growth and color. Can tolerate partial shade but with reduced vigor and color intensity.

Soil: Adapts to a wide range of soil types but thrives best in well-drained soil. Tolerates poor soils and clay. It does not persist in highly fertile soils or moist conditions.

Water: Once established, it is highly drought-tolerant. Water regularly during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system, then reduce frequency.

Fertilizer: Generally does not require fertilization. If needed, apply a light amount of a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring.

Pruning: Cut back old foliage in late winter or early spring before new growth begins to maintain a tidy appearance.

Propagation: Easily propagated by seed in spring or by division in spring or fall. Self-seeds in favorable conditions.

Pests and Diseases: Generally pest-free. May occasionally be affected by rust or fungal spots in very humid conditions, but these are rarely serious.

Requirements

Hardiness 3 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses
Plant Family Poaceae
Genus Schizachyrium
Common names Little Bluestem
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spacing 24" - 30"
(60cm - 80cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Bees, Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, Gravel and Rock Garden
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’ (Little Bluestem)
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Blues’ (Little Bluestem)
Schizachyrium scoparium BLUE HEAVEN® (Little Bluestem)
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Smoke Signal’ (Little Bluestem)
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Twilight Zone’ (Little Bluestem)
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Blue Paradise’ (Little Bluestem)

Recommended Companion Plants

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ (Witch Hazel)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (Aromatic Aster)
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 3 - 9
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses
Plant Family Poaceae
Genus Schizachyrium
Common names Little Bluestem
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spacing 24" - 30"
(60cm - 80cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low, Average
Soil Type Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Rabbit, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Bees, Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, Gravel and Rock Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Not sure which Schizachyrium (Little Bluestem) to pick?
Compare Now

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