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Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)
Species Distribution Map: Click to enlarge
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Schizachyrium scoparium

little bluestem

An upright and clump forming native grass with spiky blades of blue or green. Wispy silvery flowers occur in late summer, followed by a spectacular display of fall color changing from green and orange to deep burgundy. Remains attractive as an architectural feature through winter.

Schizachyrium scoparium LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
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3-4 Feet


2-3 Feet


12 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 3-8

little bluestem Interesting Notes

Possessing heat and drought tolerance, minimal nutrient needs, fall color, and winter interest, little bluestem makes a wonderful addition to the garden. Little bluestem is a clumping warm season grass with blue-green to green foliage. Reaching 2-4’ tall, this adaptable grass will grow in any site except wet or extremely acidic soils or in deep shade. Turning tawny-burgundy in autumn, Schizachyrium scoparium has an extended season of interest into winter with silvery-white seed tufts along the stem. The movement and fine texture of little bluestem complements large composite flowers like Coreopsis tripterisEchinacea pallidaSilphium mohrii and Symphyotrichium oblongifolium. - Mt. Cuba Center

Native grasses are the larval food plants of the Leonard's Skipper (Hesperia leonardus), both Andropogon gerardii and A. scoparius with needlegrass (Stipa spp.) and dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) (Swengel, 1993) as well as Panicum virgatum, Eragrostis alba, and Agrostis spp. (Opler and Krizek, 1984). The larvae pupate in early August probably amid plant debris like other Hesperia species (Opler and Krizek, 1984; Schweitzer, 1985). -Wisconsin DNR

Native Distribution

Schizachyrium scoparium Growing and Maintenance Tips

S. scoparium can be found in dry fields, prairies and woods from Maine to Alberta and Idaho, south to Florida and Arizona. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, but will not grow well in moist, fertile soils. Propagate by seed or division in spring. Self seeds,though not prolifically. Cut to the ground in spring before new growth emerges. Best utilized as a vertical accent in perennial borders or as a screen.

Good Substitutions

little bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium 'Standing Ovation'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Summer
Green Infrastructure
Lawn Alternative
Erosion Control
Green Roof
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Open pollinated
Grass Type
Warm Season