Summer through fall, the slender leaves and stems of little bluestem are an ever-changing kaleidoscope of gray-green, blue, pink, purple, copper, mahogany, red, and orange tones. Wispy silver-white seed heads sparkle in autumn sunlight and coppery brown leaves persist through winter.
Little bluestem is a tough and dependable clumping grass that blends well with perennials such as asters, sedums, coneflowers, and other grasses. Native grasses play their part in the pollinator story too. Little bluestem is a larval host for a variety of butterflies and moths such as crossline skipper, Dakota skipper, and Ottoe skipper.
Native to much of North America, it was one of the dominant grasses of the vast tallgrass prairies. In well-drained soils, stems will remain upright but can flop easily if conditions are too rich or moist. Cultivars have been selected for shorter plants, enhanced leaf colors, and stronger stems.
Little bluestem’s spikiness complements native and non-native perennials alike. An easy fit for mass plantings or meadows, it is just as brilliant in traditional borders, gravel gardens, and green roofs. Perfect partners are Calamintha nepeta (calamint), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed), Stachys ‘Hummelo’ (betony or woundwort) and Allium ‘Millenium’ (ornamental onion).
Schizachyrium scoparium 'Carousel' is recommended for the Great Lakes region.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 9; AHS Heat Zones 7-1.
Light: Full sun
Size: 24-48 inches tall and 18-24 inches wide; cultivar sizes vary
Soil: Dry to medium, well-drained soils. Adaptable to a range of conditions such as clay and poor soils. Overwatering and too much nitrogen can cause floppy growth and increase the probability of rootzone and foliar pathogens.
Maintenance: Good drought resistance once established. Tolerant of heat and humidity. Has few pest issues (scout for aphids and spider mites). Cut back in late winter to early spring. Overwinter on the dry side.
Perennial Plant Association members vote for the Perennial Plant of the Year. Perennials chosen for the ballot must satisfy a wide range of growing climates, require low maintenance, possess multiple-season interest, be relatively pest/disease-free, and readily available in the year of its selection. At that time, each member may also nominate up to two plants for next year’s consideration. A committee reviews the nominated perennials (more than 400 different perennials are often nominated each year) and selects 3 or 4 perennials to be placed on the next ballot.
Credit to https://perennialplant.org/page/2022PPOY
Contributed by: Vicki Gee-Treft, Master Gardener Volunteer
6/1/2022 09:26:17 am
That was a great read, thanks
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