Schizachyrium scoparium 'Blaze'
Common Name: little bluestem
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to February
Bloom Description: Reddish-brown
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Black Walnut, Air Pollution

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions. Tolerates clay soils. Performs well in poor soils. Good drought resistance once established. Tolerates high heat and humidity. Cut to the ground in late winter to early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Schizachyrium scoparium, commonly called little bluestem, is native to prairies, fields, clearings, hills, limestone glades, roadsides, waste areas and open woods from Alberta to Quebec south to Arizona and Florida. It was one of the dominant grasses of the vast tallgrass prairie region which once covered rich and fertile soils in many parts of central North America. It typically matures to 2-4’ (less frequently to 5’) tall, and features upright clumps of slender, flat, linear green leaves (to 1/4“ wide), with each leaf having a tinge of blue at the base. Purplish-bronze flowers appear in 3” long racemes on branched stems rising above the foliage in August. Flowers are followed by clusters of fluffy, silvery-white seed heads which are attractive and often persist into winter. Many consider the most outstanding ornamental feature of this grass to be its bronze-orange fall foliage color.

Genus name comes from the Latin schizein meaning to split and achyron meaning chaff.

Specific epithet means broomlike.

Common name is in reference to the lavender-blue color on the stem bases.

'Blaze' is a little bluestem cultivar that is noted for its vivid red fall foliage. It typically grows in an erect, broom-like clump to 2-3’ tall. Slender, flat, linear leaves (1/4” wide) emerge light blue in spring, darken to gray-green in summer, acquire purple highlights in late summer before exploding into a blaze of fall color consisting of intense shades of pinkish-orange to reddish-purple to vivid red. Foliage typically retains some color throughout winter. In July-August, flower stems rise higher than the foliage clump bearing small reddish-brown flowers. Flowers give way to seed heads fringed with showy, silvery-white hairs. Seed heads may persist into winter.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Ornamental grass for borders, cottage gardens, wild gardens, wood margins, meadows or prairie-like settings. Group or mass. A good low-maintenance selection for sun-baked areas.

'Blaze' has excellent fall color.