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Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Blues’ (Little Bluestem)

Little Bluestem 'Prairie Blues', Blue Stem 'Prairie Blues', Prairie Beardgrass 'Prairie Blues', Prairie Beard Grass 'Prairie Blues'

Schizachyrium scoparium Prairie Blues, Little Bluestem Prairie Blues, Blue Stem Prairie Blues, Broom Grass Prairie Blues, Native Grass

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Blues’ is a cultivar of Little Bluestem, a grass native to the prairies of North America, celebrated for its beautiful blue foliage and adaptability to various landscapes.

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Prairie Blues’: An In-depth Look

‘Prairie Blues’ is known for its upright, clumping habit and fine-textured, blue-gray foliage. This cultivar maintains a neat appearance throughout the growing season.

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 form, which adds structure and texture to garden designs.

Size: This cultivar typically grows to about 3-4 feet in height (90-120 cm) and 1.5-2 feet in width (45-60 cm).

Flowers: It produces airy, delicate flowers, which are visually appealing and add a fine texture to the plant. They appear on the tips of the stems, emerging as light, feathery tufts that can catch the light beautifully, adding a subtle shimmer to the plant. These flowers then transform into clusters of fluffy, silver seed heads, which can remain attractive well into the early winter months.

Bloom Time: The flowering period generally occurs from late summer into early autumn.

Foliage: The foliage is noteworthy for its distinctive blue-gray color, providing a unique aesthetic appeal in garden settings. This cultivar of Little Bluestem maintains its fine, linear leaves in an upright and clumping form, contributing both color and texture to the landscape.

During the spring and summer, ‘Prairie Blues’ showcases its vibrant blue-gray foliage, which stands out against the green hues typically found in gardens. This cool-toned coloration brings a refreshing and calming presence to outdoor spaces.

As the seasons change, particularly in the fall, the foliage undergoes a stunning transformation. The blue-gray tones shift to shades of orange and red, offering a warm, autumnal display. This seasonal color change adds significant visual interest and makes ‘Prairie Blues’ a valuable addition for year-round appeal in garden designs.

Uses: Ideal for use in borders, native plantings, and as a specimen in gardens. Its fine texture and color make it a great choice for ornamental purposes.

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: Once established, little Bluestem is highly drought-tolerant, 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: Offers a long season of visual interest with its blue-gray foliage, is low maintenance, and provides ecological benefits by supporting wildlife. It’s also 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 3' - 4'
(90cm - 120cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" - 24"
(50cm - 60cm)
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, Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage, Gravel and Rock Garden
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’ (Little Bluestem)
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Brush Strokes’ (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 3' - 4'
(90cm - 120cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Spacing 18" - 24"
(50cm - 60cm)
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, Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage, Gravel and Rock Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Not sure which Schizachyrium (Little Bluestem) to pick?
Compare Now

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