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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