Plant types and subtypes: Grasses, Prairie Grasses, Ornamental Grasses
Light Requirements: sun, part-sun
Water Use: low
Soil Moisture: dry, moist
Soil Description: neutral, average, poor, clay, sand, gravel/rock
Bloom Time: August, September, October
Bloom Color: red, purple, green
Leaf Color: green, blue-green
Hardiness Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Additional Tags: attracts birds, attracts butterflies, clumping, colonizing, cut flowers, naturalizing, ornamental foliage
Pricing & Availability
Andropogon gerardiiAlso known as:
Andropogon chrysocomus, Andropogon gerardii var. chrysocomus, Andropogon furcatus, Andropogon provincialis
Andropogon gerardii is a tall, perennial, warm season prairie bunchgrass. Its many ornamental characteristics make this species valuable in garden settings. The long, blue-green foliage provides excellent texture and a strong architectural focal point. The stems can grow to a height of 8', they are blue-green when they emerge, changing to shades of red, purple, and bronze as fall progresses. The individual flower spikes resemble fingers, which led to the common name 'turkeyfoot'. Bunched together, these flowering spikes form a large V-shaped plume.
Big bluestem is easy to grow and is not particular about soil type, though if it is too rich and moist, it will encourage rapid growth and a weaker plant susceptible to being toppled over. A deep root system can be slow to develop, but once established, this grass is tolerant of all but the most severe dry-spells. Andropogon gerardii is of course ideal and sought after for prairie restoration projects, but can also be a very effective garden plant. Use it in groups for a border planting or screen, or individually as a tall accent plant As a warm season grass, it remains compact until mid-summer, and can complement tall growing blooming perennials without competing with them. It is best grown in full sun, but can tolerate part-sun in the warmer limits of its range. Very cold hardy and heat tolerant. Zones 3-9
Easily propagated from seed. Though cold stratification is not required, it will improve germination rates. Propagate by root division in late fall after the plants have set seed, but before the ground begins to freeze.
Once a common prairie grass, native populations have been reduced to a few isolated stands, due to intensive agriculture, development, and overgrazing by cattle. In cultivation, big bluestem is an excellent native alternative to invasive exotic fountaingrasses, and even Pampas grass.
Native Range & Classification
Recorded County Distribution: USDA data
AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY
|Species||Andropogon gerardii||big bluestem|