Andropogon Gerardii: Big Bluestem Grass Information and Care

Big Bluestem Grass is a perennial grass with striking foliage. Why should you consider it and how to grow it?

Big bluestem is a perennial grass that mostly grows during spring and summer. It has striking foliage and produces flowers that resemble the feet of a turkey.

In this article, we’ll explore more about this unique grass and how you can incorporate it into your garden or landscaping.

General Information

Big bluestem grows in dense clusters that can reach 4 – 6 feet tall and 2 – 3 feet wide. It can change from green to blue-green or silvery-blue in the summer and ruby, orange, and purple in the fall, making it an excellent background or accent plant.

tall bluestem grass in the field

Care and Maintenance

Big bluestem is drought-tolerant thanks to its deep-growing roots. Be careful not to overwater it, plant it in mostly shady areas, or apply too much fertilizer; these things can make it grow top-heavy and topple over. 

This grass grows best in dry or moist sandy, clay, or shallow soils with low acidity. Big bluestem thrives in full sun, so plant it where it can get at least 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight each day.

a closeup picture of a grass' ferns

How to Use Big Bluestem in Landscapes

Big bluestem is perfect for meadows and native gardens; it also is a great grass to add to landscaping to control erosion. 

This grass adds wonderful autumn color tones that also look great in the winter. In addition, it operates as a shelter for at least 24 different species of songbirds and butterflies, which can add even more dimension to your home garden.

Companion Plants

Big bluestem adds color and depth to your garden year-round, especially when planted alongside the following plants: 

1. Gayfeather

Gayfeather plants are eye-catching and low maintenance. They are also known as blazing star or prairie star. This plant is a beautiful perennial that produces purple or white flowers that can grow 1 – 5 feet tall.  

Grow gayfeather bulbs in the sunniest part of your yard. Also, ensure the bulbs are planted in organic, well-draining soil. Apply just enough water to keep the soil moist during dry periods. 

blossoming purple gayfeather grass

2. Culver’s Root

Culver’s root plants grow 2 – 6 feet tall and produce white flowers on the top portion of its branches, which create a lit candelabra effect. 

Plant it where it can get full or partial sunlight in rich, loamy soil. However, this plant can tolerate being planted in sand or clay. 

Avoid planting culver’s roots on slopes as they have a tendency to topple over.

culver's root with purple white flowers

3. Butterfly Weed

Butterfly weed is a low-maintenance herbaceous perennial that grows as a wildflower in meadows, prairies, and woodlands. One of the benefits of planting butterfly weeds is it attracts a variety of helpful (and attractive) insects to your garden.

This bushy plant, which can grow as tall as 1.5 – 2 feet, also produces clusters of bright orange flowers, which can be 2 – 5 inches wide. 

Butterfly weed grows well in sandy, dry, or rocky soil and can successfully grow from seeds placed directly in the garden. Its gorgeous flowers stand out against dark green backgrounds. 

blossoming orange flowers of a butterfly weed grass

4. Little Bluestem

Little bluestem is a fine-textured bunchgrass that grows in mounds up to a foot in diameter. Its blue-green stems can grow 3 feet tall before turning a magnificent mahogany red with white tuft plumes in autumn. 

Little bluestem is drought-tolerant, yet it thrives in wet environments. 

thick bush of a little bluestem grass
Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
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