Common Name: bluestem
Type: Ornamental grass
Native Range: Central America, West Indies
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to February
Bloom Description: Silvery pink to white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut, Air Pollution
Easily grown in medium to wet soils in full sun. Tolerates very light shade. Prefers moist, fertile, loamy soils that do not dry out and is generally intolerant of dry soils. It should be noted that the moist soil preference for this species distinguishes it from most other species of Andropogon including the Missouri native Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem). Freely self-seeds in optimum growing conditions. Cut clumps to the ground in late winter to early spring before new shoots appear.
This species of bluestem grass (often commonly called bushy bluestem, bushy beardgrass or bushy broom grass) is a clump-forming ornamental grass which is grown for its attractive foliage and feathery, club-shaped flower/seed panicles. It is native to the eastern and southern U. S. where it typically occurs in moist soils in swamp peripheries, marshes, pastures, low spots and coastal areas. Typically forms a narrow clump of flattened blue-green leaf blades (1/4 to 1/2" wide) growing 3-4' tall with a spread of 2-3'. Flower stalks topped by dense, fluffy, silvery pink to white panicles rise above the foliage (to 6' tall) in late summer to early fall. Unlike the marginally ornamental, turkey foot-like inflorescences of Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), the bushy and broom-like inflorescences (hence the common names) of this species are quite attractive. After frost, the foliage and bushy panicles turn coppery-orange with the panicles softening into billowy plumes. Fall foliage color persists well into winter providing good ornamental interest. Seed plumes are attractive in dried flower arrangements.
No serious insect or disease problems. Can aggressively self-seed in optimum growing conditions.
Attractive ornamental grass for moist soils. Group or specimen. Mature flower/seed panicles can be spectacular, especially when backlit by late afternoon sun.