Sporobolus heterolepis – Prairie Dropseed

 Sporobolus heterolepis

Prairie Dropseed

This native grass finds its home in much of the US.  Part of the greater Sporobolus genus which includes the sacaton, and muhlenbergia has fine green leaves and grows in a lovely arching fashion.  This slow grower, can take up to four years to flower when grown from seed.  This variety might be recommended in rock gardens with well draining soil.  Here in my clay field, not so much.  I will report back on any alternatives I can find.  So far – Koeleria macrantha and Bouteloua Curtipendula have fared better.

Said to turn a golden / orange hue in fall.

INFO modified from: Perrys Perennial Pages UVM extension

Size: 2-3ft (height- when flowering) x 2-3ft wide

Growth rate, habit: slow, upright arching clump

Foliage: fine textured, hair-like to 20in. long, golden with orange hues in fall turning light bronze in winter

Flowers:   30-36in. tall panicles, pink and brown tints, slight unique fragrance resembling coriander.

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8 (average minimum -30F or colder)

Soil:  average, well-drained;  tolerates clay soils and drought once established, but prefers dry,rocky soils.

Light:  full sun


In the garden:

2021:  DEAD:  All plants purchased are showing no signs of returning.  Whether it was watering regime, soil texture, its unknown.  But the fact that it prefers dry, rocky soils – its not the best choice for the sticky clay found in many front range yards.

2019:  I purchased small plants from Prairie Nursery.  Some were transferred to larger pots early in the season and their growth was appreciable compared to those transplanted to solo cups.  In July these were planted into the ground.  Manual watering was done until September.  Most plants have only 30 or so leaves.  Shown a plant about 6″ tall, with the most foliage.

Sporobolus Grown in a larger container in early summer. Transplant shock killed some of the early growth.

I will plant liatris among these as an accent.


From the web

Missouri Botanical Dropseed Info

A nice pic of prairie dropseed


USDA information

An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.