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Schizachyrium scoparium

Pronunciation: ski-za-KRY-ee-um sko-PAIR-ee-um
Family: Poaceae
Synonym: Andropogon scoparius, Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium
Common Name: Little Bluestem, Seacoast Bluestem, Dune Bluestem, Broom Beardgrass, Prairie Beardgrass, Small Feathergrass
Plant Type:
  • grasses
Height to: 3ft (1m)
Width to: 12in (30cm)
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -30 to -40ºF ZONE 3
  • -20 to -30ºF ZONE 4
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Season:
  • repeat bloomer
Bloom Description: Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) flowers are distributed in alternate pairs along zigzag branchlets 1-2 in (2. 5-5. 1 cm) long. There are several on each stem, which makes the inflorescences appear to be scattered through the top half of the foliage. The little seed spikes mature in the fall. They are fringed with silky silvery-white hairs that make the seedheads look light and fluffy. Viewed in a mass, the effect somewhat resembles that of an old man's beard.
Soil Type: Does best on sandy clay-loam soils with a ph in the range of 5. 5-6. 0 in the southeastern u. S. , it prefers soils derived from limestone. It will also grow on sand or clays, but does not do well on shallow soils.
Plant Perks:
  • Medicinal
  • Drought Tolerant
Pests and Diseases: infrequent
Propagation: Sow Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) seed at 55-59ºF/13-15ºC, or divide, in spring
Native to: North America
Notes for Identification:

 Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is a medium-size bunchgrass named for the lavender-blue tinge on the flattened bases of its stems. It can be as short as 3-5 in (7. 6-12. 7 cm) on poor dry soil or as tall as 3 ft (0. 9 m) on a rich moist tallgrass prairie site, but typically grows to about 20 in (50. 8 cm) in height. Some of the fine roots grow laterally, but most of them plunge straight down to depths of 4-5 ft (1. 2-1. 5 m). On relatively wet sites, little bluestem can form a loose sod of little tufts linked by short rhizomes, but it more commonly grows in 4-10 in (10. 2-25. 4 cm) clumps 5-10 in (12. 7-25. 4 cm) apart. There may be 100-300 fine stems emerging from each clump. The solid stems are pinkish with lavender-blue tinted nodes. The fine, flat, blue-green leaves are 1/8-1/4 in (0. 4-0. 6 cm) wide and 8-14 in (20. 3-35. 6 cm) long. Each leaf is folded into a v shape where it emerges from the sheath. In the fall, the foliage turns rusty bronze with purplish tones.  

Care: This species gets along fine without fertilizer, but older plants appreciate a little extra nutrition. Nitrogen should not be applied to young stands, but moderate supplementation of phosphorus and potassium may enhance root establishment. Little bluestem will benefit from a prescribed burn every 1-3 years. If prescribed burning is not feasible, little bluestem should be mowed annually in midsummer. Do not cut it lower than 8 in (20. 3 cm).

Source: floridata

Located in: Grasses
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