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Andropogon gerardii

Big Bluestem /

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The king of native grasses, Big Bluestem has handsome gray to blue-green stems in spring turning to green with a touch of red in summer then to coppery red in fall. Three fingered seed heads top tall stems in August. Clump forming with excellent drought tolerance once established.

Benefits

  • Brilliant copper-red fall color
  • Provides food and nesting for many birds
  • Superb for mass planting and erosion control
  • Fast growing and drought tolerant
  • Seed heads dry well for cut flower arrangements
  • Host plant for several types of shippers

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Andropogon gerardii is very tolerant of diverse conditions, but is most often found in full sun, dry and sandy to clay soils. It grows quickly in moist fertile soils, but is more likely to bend and fall over. Clumps can be divided in early summer, use a sturdy shovel!


Height
4-6 Feet

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Spread
18-24 Inches

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9

Native Range

Andropogon gerardii can be found in moist meadows and along side roads and rivers from Canada to Mexico. Distribution Map

Native Trivia

Big bluestem once dominated the tall-grass prairies of North America, forming rippling waves of amber taller than a man on horseback from the Rocky Mountains to the eastern forests.


"Big Bluestem is one of the larval food plants of the Leonard's Skipper (Hesperia leonardus)."

Good Companions
Sky Blue Aster (Aster azureus)

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
  • Medium to Tall Grasses
  • Medium to Tall Perennials
Exposure
  • Sun
Soil
  • Acidic
  • Saline or alkaline
  • Well-drained
  • Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
  • Average
  • Dry
  • Moist
  • Moist but well-drained
Attracts Wildlife
  • Beneficial insects
  • Butterflies
  • Songbirds
Bloom Time
  • Late Summer
  • Summer
Critter Resistance
  • Deer Resistant
Habitat Collection
  • Butterfly
  • Songbird
Native Habitat
  • Grassland
Foliage Color
  • Blue-green
  • Green
  • Multi-color
  • Red
Uses
  • Accent
  • Border
  • Cut or dried flower
  • Drought tolerant
  • Erosion control
  • Hedge, screen
  • Mass plant
  • Meadow
  • Naturalizes
  • Wind tolerant
Native to
  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming