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Andropogon gerardii 'Blackhawks' (big bluestem) Andropogon gerardii 'Blackhawks' (big bluestem)
Photo Courtesy of Brent Horvath ©2018 Intrinsic Plants

Andropogon gerardii 'Blackhawks' PPAF

big bluestem or turkeyfoot grass

A native grass selected for its stature and beautiful seasonal foliage display, this big bluestem is sure to make a powerful statement in fall as a stunning backdrop in a border or massed in a prairie garden. 

Dark green foliage turns dark purple or near black in fall.
Erosion control
Excellent as a screen or statement in a border
Great impact massed in a naturalized setting

A seedling of Andropogon gerardii 'Red October', this exciting new release from Intrinsic Perennial Gardens has dark green upright foliage that begins to turn red in the cool nights of August and becomes a ravishing nearly black color by September.

Andropogon ger. 'Blackhawks' PPAF - LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
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4-5 ft


1-2 ft

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9

big bluestem Interesting Notes

Andropogon gerardii, commonly called big bluestem grass, is a tall, Missouri native, perennial, warm season grass that was the dominant grass of the tallgrass prairie which once covered large parts of the Midwest. It may be grown as an ornamental grass because of its attractive foliage which changes color seasonally, its good architectural height and its interesting flower/seed heads. It features an upright clump of stems with flattened leaves (to 2' long and 3/8" wide) which emerge gray to blue green in spring, mature to green with red tinges in summer and turn reddish bronze with lavender tones in autumn after frost. Flowering stems rise in late summer above the foliage clump bearing purplish 3-parted, finger-like flower clusters (to 4" long) purportedly resembling turkey feet (hence the additional common name of turkeyfoot grass for this species). Flowering stems bring total height of this grass to 4-8' tall (typically at the taller end in moist soils and the shorter end in dry soils). -Missouri Botanical Garden

Andropogon gerardii 'Blackhawks' Growing and Maintenance Tips

Andropogon gerardii grows 4-5 feet tall with a maximum spread of 2 feet. Easily tolerates a range of soils from average, dry to medium, well-drained in full sun. Grows lush in fertile, moist soils like those found along a riverbed but beware! Overly-fertile soils leads to plant toppling over - best in lean soils to show its true stature and poise. Grass can be cut back in late winter and divided in early summer. 

Good Substitutions

big bluestem Andropogon gerardii

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant

Additional Information

Season of Interest (Foliage)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Propagation Type
Tissue culture
Native to North America
Ornamental Foliage
Dry Sun
Grass Type: Warm Season
Erosion Control