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FutureStarrASchizachyrium Scoparium Little Bluestem
Little bluestem is a very ornamental bunchgrass with fine-textured foliage that forms very dense mounds 18-24 inches tall. Slender blue-green stems reach 3 feet by September, and become radiant mahogany-red with white, shining seed tufts in the fall. Color remains nearly all winter. Perennial clumps grow up to a foot in diameter. Conditions Comments: Little bluestem is wonderful planted en masse. The visual dynamics it provides range from blue-green in late summer to golden with cotton-tufted seedheads in winter. It readily reseeds so little bluestem is not recommended for small gardens. Little bluestem is tolerant of a wide range of soils but will not tolerate wetlands or sub-irrigated sites.
Little Bluestem is an excellent plant for wildlife. Little Bluestem serves as the larval host for several skipper species including the Dusted Skipper, Cobweb Skipper, Ottoe Skipper, Indian Skipper, Swarthy Skipper, and the Crossline Skipper. Other insects that feed on Little Bluestem include grasshoppers, Prairie Walkingsticks, the leaf-mining beetles, thrips, spittlebugs, and leafhoppers. The seeds of this grass are eaten by songbirds. Little bluestem provides necessary overwintering habitat and resources for many insects and birds. Female bumble bee queens nest at the base of bunch grasses, like Little Bluestem, where they are protected until they emerge in the Spring.One of the most widely distributed species of grass in the US, Little Bluestem is very drought-tolerant, but it can do well in moist situations too. Farmers have used this species for hay, but consecutive years of haying will likely cause the species to disappear. In a garden setting, Little Bluestem is valued for its blue-green color in the summer and, after the first frost, it turns beautiful shades of brown, copper, and crimson that will remain all winter. The grass gets fluffy white seed heads that also adds seasonal interest. Some gardeners choose to remove the seed fluff to control the spread of young seedlings.
Noted for its striking reddish-tan foliage, Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem) is a densely-tufted, deciduous, perennial grass forming an upright clump of fine-textured, slender, arching, blue-green leaves. The foliage of this North American prairie native turns striking copper-orange to dark orange-red in the fall and winter, persisting through winter snows. In late summer, delicate inflorescences appear in 3 in. long racemes (7 cm) on branched stems rising above the foliage. At first inconspicuous, they become particularly attractive after they dry and turn silvery reddish-brown. Their white, shining, cotton-tufted seedheads are of great value to small birds in winter. Providing a very long season of interest, Little Bluestem is easy to grow, tolerates heat, drought and humidity. It is an attractive addition to the landscape and can be used as an accent in borders, or in drifts in natural settings where it will mix happily with prairie wildflowers.Schizachyrium scoparium, commonly known as little bluestem or beard grass, is a species of North American prairie grass native to most of the contiguous United States (except California, Nevada, and Oregon) as well as a small area north of the Canada–US border and northern Mexico. It is most common in the Midwestern prairies. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)