Schizachyrium scoparium 'Prairie Munchkin'
Common Name: little bluestem 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Bloom Description: Light brown
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Fruit: Showy
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 and occasional inundation. 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.

'Prairie Munchkin' is a compact, upright selection of little bluestem that features colorful foliage and showy seedheads in fall. The foliage matures from blue-green to shades of copper, orange, and maroon in fall. The flowering stalks emerge from the centers of the clumps in late summer, topped by silvery seedheads in fall that persist into winter. Mature clumps will reach up to 3' tall and spread to fill a 2' area. This plant is protected by patent number PP26335.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Uses

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