Schizachyrium scoparium – Little bluestem

Little Bluestem – Schizachyrium scoparium

2 – 3’H x 12″ Warm season grass.  Green to blue green leaves turn red/bronze in the fall.  And is a standout during winter.  With a fibrous root system, for Colorado its best grown in clay soils.  Will tolerate light shade and is drought tolerant.  Up to 7500ft

  • host plant for a number of butterflies and moths; seeds for birds
  • Blooms:  Late Summer  (LSu)
  • Moisture: Dry to Medium (DM)
  • Soil Type:  ALL: Sands, Loams, and Clays (A)
  • Range: Native (N)
  • Can tolerate some shade
  • Started as: Seed  7-10  days

Propagation and Seed Starting

2020 Plants purchased from Prairie nursery.

2019 Plants Purchased from Prairie Nursery: in a 32 plant kit. If you purchase from them be sure to plant prep for shipping. I was not aware the bottom of the plant containers are open and they dry out quickly! I opted to plant in larger containers for a planting later in the year.

20190611 – 30% loss.  Between the dry out and then a soaking with poor drainage, many schizachyrum are gone.  Should have done more research on its culture.

The things to today – finish potting up seedlings. Check transitioning cuttings for annual pots.

Role in Ecosystem

New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah: Little bluestem is present in upland grasslands, shrubsteppes, and dry, open forests of pines, junipers and oaks in this geographic area [292]. Common shrub associates of little bluestem in ponderosa pine, Colorado pinyon (P. edulis) and Gambel oak (Q. gambelii) habitat types include wavyleaf oak (Q. undulata), snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.), skunkbush sumac (R. trilobata), Rocky Mountain juniper (J. scopulorum), Emory’s oak, gray oak, and Arizona white oak. Other grasses include blue grama (B. gracilis), big bluestem, muttongrass (Poa fendleriana), and muhly grasses [91]. Ponderosa pine stands in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico had regular surface fire in intervals of 2 to 10 years [93]. In Colorado, fire regimes in interior ponderosa forest types below 8,200 feet (2,500 m) were historically likely mixed and variable with fires historically larger than 3.6 square miles (10 km2) occurring 50 to 60 years apart [162]. Stands were not even-aged on a landscape scale; crown fire was very localized and confined to younger stands. When crown fire occurred it created openings in which blue grama, Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides), and little bluestem were important forage species.

Schizachyrium scoparium Jennifer Anderson, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database





praise of bluestems

Missouri Botanical Bluestem Info

See Also:

Dropseed and Little Bluestem grasses arrive; soon big bluestem as well

An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.