Helictotrichon sempervirens

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 2 Professionals
Common Name: blue oat grass
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: Central and southwestern Europe
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: June
Bloom Description: Bluish brown
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Black Walnut, Air Pollution

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Best blue color occurs in dryish soils. Remove withered leaves as they appear. Although foliage is evergreen in warm winter climates, it is more semi-evergreen in harsh winters where foliage decline will occur. In the St. Louis area, plants generally benefit by being cut back close to the ground in late winter every year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Helictotrichon sempervirens, commonly called blue oat grass, is a clump-forming, cool season, ornamental grass which typically grows 2-3' tall (foliage clump to 2' and flower stem brings total height to 3') with a similar spread. Features very narrow (3/8" wide), spiky, steel blue leaf blades (to 18") which form a rounded, porcupine-like clump. Resembles blue fescue (Festuca glauca), but is significantly larger. Spikelets of bluish-brown flowers arranged in open, one-sided panicles arching at the tip appear on erect stems rising well above the foliage clump in June. Flower spikelets mature to a golden wheat color by fall.

Genus name comes from the Greek helictos meaning twisted and trichos meaning a hair for the twisted base of the awns.

Specific epithet means ever green.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Rust may be troublesome in humid climates, though this cultivar reportedly has good resistance. Crown rot may occur in moist, poorly drained soils.

Garden Uses

Specimen for the border or rock garden. Mass for ground cover. Effective foundation plant as an accent or in conjunction with dwarf blue spruces or junipers. Blue foliage contrasts well with pink flowering perennials and many spring bulbs.