Common Name: prairie dropseed
Type: Ornamental grass
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Bloom Description: Pink and brown tinted
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates wide range of soils, including heavy clays. Prefers dry, rocky soils. Good drought tolerance. Slow-growing and slow to establish. May be grown from seed but does not freely self-seed in the garden.
Sporobolus heterolepis, called prairie dropseed, is a clump-forming, warm season, Missouri native perennial grass which typically occurs in prairies, glades, open ground and along railroads throughout much of the State (Steyermark). This is a prairie grass that is native from Quebec to Saskatchewan south to Colorado, Texas and Connecticut. Fine-textured, hair-like, medium green leaves (to 20” long and 1/16” wide) typically form an arching foliage mound to 15” tall and 18” wide. Foliage turns golden with orange hues in fall, fading to light bronze in winter. Open, branching flower panicles appear on slender stems which rise well above the foliage clump in late summer to 30-36" tall. Flowers have pink and brown tints, but are perhaps most noted for their unique fragrance (hints of coriander). Tiny rounded mature seeds drop to the ground from their hulls in autumn giving rise to the descriptive common name.
Specific epithet means diversely scaled.
'Tara' is a dwarf version of the species. It typically grows in the form of a vase (more upright and less arching than the species) to 12" tall, with attractive flowering spikes rising in summer well above the foliage to 24" tall. Orange-red fall color can be spectacular.
No serious insect or disease problems.
Ground cover for hot, dry areas. Prairies, meadows, native plant gardens, wild areas or slopes. Also effective in large rock gardens. Accent for foundation plantings or borders.