Sorghastrum Nutans: Indiangrass Information and Care Guide

Sorghastrum Nutans, or Indiangrass, is a clumping ornamental grass that thrives in full sun. Why consider it and how to grow it?

Sorghastrum nutans, also known as Indiangrass, is a perennial grass native to Missouri. It thrives during warm seasons and are often found in grasslands and open woods across the U.S. 

General Information

This perennial grass has a clump of thin, arching leaves that range in color from brilliant green to blue-green. It actively blooms from August to October, yielding fluffy copper-colored flowers with vibrant yellow stamens. Indiangrass can grow to be 3 – 5 feet tall and 1 – 2 feet wide. 

Sorghastrum nutans play an important role in prairie ecology and among livestock. Animals and birds eat it, pepper-and-salt skipper butterflies use them as larval hosts, and bees use the grass for nesting.

Care and Maintenance

Indiangrass grows best in full sun and thrives in different types of soil. After planting, mow the seeded stand high, leaving 6 to 12-inch grass stubble, to eliminate blooming portions of the weeds and limit injury to the slower-growing native grass seedlings.

Minimize fertilizer application during the first growing season since it promotes weed growth. Whether you’re planting individual grasses or distributing seed, make sure they get plenty of water until they’ve established roots. After that, minimal care is required.

Indiangrass spreads easily as it grows. It is also prone to foliar diseases like leaf spot and rust.

one branch of an indian grass seed gead

How to Use Indiangrass in Landscapes

The height of Indiangrass’ growth season is from midsummer to late winter. During that time, it produces a peaceful sound as the wind blows through it. Use Indiangrass as a semi-formal privacy hedge or intersperse it among taller flowers like liatris, sunflowers, blue sage, or goldenrods to create more of a prairie feel. It’s also ideal for dry gardens, grasslands, meadows,  and erosion-prone slopes.

Companion Plants

The warm colors of Indiangrass look great next to these plants: 

1. Gomphrena Globosa  

Gomphrena globosa, also known as globe amaranth, is a beautiful annual plant that will add color to your garden from early summer till the first freeze. It is drought and heat tolerant and is quite simple to grow. This plant produces beautiful hot pink pompom flowers with gold tips that sit atop long stems. This low-maintenance plant is pest and disease-free, making it a lovely addition to any landscape.

gomphrena globosa flowers blooming in the garden

2. Borago Officinalis (Borage)

Borago officinalis, sometimes known as borage or a starflower, is a spreading annual plant. Its brilliant, star-shaped blue flowers bloom from early summer to early autumn. Borage is unique in that its stems and leaves can be used in foods and drinks! Borage is also great for attracting bees.

blue star shaped flowers early morning

3. Rudbeckia Hirta 

Rudbeckia Hirta, also known as prairie sun or “black-eyed Susan,” is a biennial plant with daisy-like flower petals that can grow up to 5 inches wide, making it one of the largest Rudbeckia blossoms. Its yellow and bright orange petals encircle a light green core disk. Black-eyed Susans actively bloom from early summer until the first freeze.

yellow rudbeckia flowers in the garden

4. Lobelia x Speciosa ‘Vedrariensis’ 

This perennial plant is also a cardinal flower. It actively grows in rainy climates from July to early October and has tall spires of dark violet flowers that sit atop dark greenish-purple leaves. The Cardinal flower’s color alone makes it an excellent choice for a summer garden, and its blossoms attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

purple cardinal flower  under the heat of the sun
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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