Alphabetical Plant Listing

Sorghastrum nutans (Indian Grass)

Indian Grass, Wood Grass, Sorghastrum avenaceum


A tough plant for prairies and wildlife gardens, Sorghastrum nutans (Indian Grass) is a robust perennial grass forming a spreading clump of slender, arching, rich green to blue-green leaves. Like many prairie natives, Indian Grass is a warm season grass, blooming in late summer and fall. The showy and feathery flower panicles are copper-colored with conspicuous bright yellow stamens. They rise well above the foliage clump and turn light chestnut brown as they mature. They make excellent cut flowers, fresh or dried, and remain attractive through most of winter. The foliage turns yellow to bright orange in the fall. Indian Grass is one of the most beautiful grasses of the tall grass prairie that once covered much of North America.

  • Grows up to 3-5 ft. tall (90-150 cm) and 1-2 ft. wide (30-60 cm). Self-sows prolifically 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 heavy clay, poor, dry, infertile soils. Protect from excessive winter wet.
  • Excellent choice for drought-prone gardens, this architectural grass is perfect for prairies, meadows or naturalized areas. Great on slopes for erosion control.
  • Drought tolerant, it requires very little care, is virtually disease and pest free.
  • Remove dead foliage and old flowered stems in spring
  • Propagate by seed sown in pots in a cold frame in spring or by division in spring.
  • Native to eastern and central United States.

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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, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 3' – 5' (90cm – 150cm)
Spread 1' – 2' (30cm – 60cm)
Spacing 18" – 24" (45cm – 60cm)
Water Needs Low
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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By Kathryn Roach, Shutterstock

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.


Requirements

Hardiness 4 – 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
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 3' – 5' (90cm – 150cm)
Spread 1' – 2' (30cm – 60cm)
Spacing 18" – 24" (45cm – 60cm)
Water Needs Low
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil, Rocky Soil
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Banks and Slopes
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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