Switchgrass, ‘Shenandoah’ #1 (Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’)May 19, 2020
Sporobolus heterolepis #1 (Prairie Dropseed)May 19, 2020
Schizachyrium scoparium #1 (Little Bluestem)
Little Bluestem is one of the “Big Four” dominant grasses of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. It is a warm-season grass that begins the season as a short, dense tuft of curling leaves before it sprouts vertical, blueish stems to 3′ in height. It puts on a spectacular display of colors in the fall, turning shades of blazing orange, lavender and bronze. The seed heads are an attractive element that persist into the winter as fluffy tufts along the stems.
Little Bluestem is remarkably drought tolerant due to its deep, fibrous root system, and it thrives in full sun and lean soils. It does not appreciate fertile soils or shade, which have a tendency to cause it to flop. This grass is used extensively in matrix plantings, pocket prairies and meadows, full-scale prairie restorations, for edging along pathways, xeriscaping, for erosion control, and as accent plants among other grasses and flowers. It performs well in sun baked landscapes and will self-seed in favorable conditions. Sparrows, Juncos, and other small songbirds use the seeds as a winter food source. Several species of Lepidoptera use this plant as a host for their caterpillars, including the Dusted Skipper, Cobweb Skipper, Crossline Skipper, and others. Prairie Walkingsticks occasionally feed on the foliage, as do grasshoppers, which in turn feed many insectivorous birds. There is no end to Little Bluestem’s usefulness to wildlife!
Native Ferns, Moss, & Grasses by William Cullina
Gardening with Grasses by Michael King and Piet Oudolf
Missouri Botanical Garden
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
USDA Plants Database
Grow Native! Salt-Tolerant Native Plants