Andropogon capillipes 'Valdosta Blue'
Common Name: bluestem
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 6 to 10
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: September to October
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Black Walnut, Air Pollution

Culture

Easily grown in average, moist, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Intolerant of dry soils. This grass is not reliably winter hardy to the northern parts of USDA Zone 6 where it should be grown in a protected location. It freely self seeds in optimum growing conditions. Cut clumps to the ground in late winter to early spring just before new shoots appear. 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).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Andropogon capillipes, commonly known as bushy bluestem, bushy beardgrass or bushy broom grass, is a warm season, clump-forming, ornamental bunchgrass which is typically grown for its attractive foliage and feathery, club shaped flower/seed panicles. It is native to the southeastern U.S. (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida) where it typically occurs in moist soils in swamp peripheries, marshes, pastures, low spots and coastal areas. This grass features an erect clump of flattened blue-green leaf blades (to 1/ 2” wide) which typically grow to 2-4’ tall with a spread to 3” wide. Flower stalks are topped by dense, fluffy, narrow, silvery white flower panicles (plumes) which rise above the foliage in late summer to early fall to as much as 6’ tall. 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.

Genus name comes from the Greek words aner or andros meaning man and pogon meaning beard in reference to the hairs on the spikelets of some species in the genus.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word capilliformis meaning hairlike.

‘Valdosta Blue’ was selected from an area near Valdosta, Georgia. This cultivar is sometimes commonly called chalky bluestem in reference to its attractive powder blue foliage.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Winter hardiness may be a problem in the St. Louis area.

Garden Uses

Attractive ornamental grass for moist soils. Mass, group or specimen. Borders. Transition areas. Pond or stream margins.