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As usual, if there's a particular plant you'd like me to address, just drop me a line at shell@michellesgarden.com.


Big Bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Big bluestem is a tall, warm-season grass that's a natural choice for prairie and meadow gardens.
It is also excellent alone as an accent plant or in groups as a screen.

Type of Plant

Warm-season, clumping perennial grass.

Best Climate and Site

Zones 4-9. Moist well-drained soil. Full sun.

Height

Height of leaves to 2 feet (60 cm); clumps to 3 feet (90 cm) or more. Flowering stems grow 6-7 feet (1.8-2.1 m) tall or more.

Description

This heat-loving grass has blue-toned, deciduous foliage. Purplish flower clusters in late summer are followed by unusual, three-branched seed heads that give the plant another of its common names, turkey foot. In fall, the foliage turns a bronze color that lasts into winter.

Growing Guidelines

Set plants 3 feet (90 cm) apart in spring. Established plants are drought-tolerant, but they'll be larger and more vigorous if you water them during dry spells. Cut back to 6 inches (15 cm) in early winter. Propagate by division in spring.

Landscape Uses

Grow big bluestem as a single specimen in a border or in groups in mass plantings. Groups are also useful as background screens and for preventing erosion on slopes. The flowers are attractive in dried arrangements.

Cultivars

'Champ' grows to 6 feet (1.8 m) and prefers light soil. 'Kaw' blooms late and is best for planting in the South. 'Pawnee' has a weeping habit and grows to 6 feet (1.8 m) tall.


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