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Chasmanthium latifolium

Northern Sea Oats

Drooping seed heads hang in clusters from slightly arching stems topping an upright clump of bamboo-like foliage. Green leaves turn copper in fall and the seed heads emerge green but turn purplish bronze by late summer then dry to a straw color. The more water it receives, the more tolerant it will be of intense sun, but it still prefers shade. Clumping grasses like this provide nest sites and winter cover for quail, sparrows and other wildlife. They also provide fall and winter seeds for a number of birds including cardinals, towhees, juncos, sparrows and finches.

Benefits

  • Larval host for: Pepper & salt skipper, Bells roadside skipper and Bronzed roadside skipper
  • Provides nesting sites, protective cover and food for birds
  • Use foliage and flower in fresh or dried arrangements
  • Seeds eaten by small mammals and granivorous birds
  • Seed stalks are decorative in dried arrangements
  • Good winter interest, very hardy
  • Deer resistant

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Easy to grow in full sun to part shade. Tolerates shade. Plant in dry to moist, well-drained soil. Surprisingly drought tolerant. Will self-seed. Leave foliage in place over winter for winter interest and to provide homes for over-wintering critters. This also helps protect crowns from the cold. Cut back to the ground in early spring before new growth begins.


Height
3 Feet

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Spread
1-3 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 5-8

Native Range

Woods, thickets and bottomland; New Jersey to Illinois to Kansas south to Texas and Florida.

Native Trivia

Northern sea oats is one of the few native grasses that grows well in shade. You can plant it in the border, shade garden, naturalized areas, along streams or on the edge of a water garden. It also grows well in large containers.

Characteristics & Attributes

Beneficial insects
Butterflies
Songbirds
Deer Resistant
Ground cover
Plan Sub Group
Low Grasses
Medium to Tall Grasses
Exposure
Filtered Shade
Morning Sun / Afternoon Shade
Soil
Well-drained
Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
Average
Dry
Moist
Moist but well-drained
Attracts Wildlife
Mammals
Bloom Time
Fall
Late Summer
Habitat Collection
Butterfly
Dry Shade
Songbird
Native Habitat
Grassland
Foliage Color
Green
Uses
Container
Cut or dried flower
Drought tolerant
Meadow
Naturalizes
Specimen
Native to
Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maryland
Michigan
Mississippi
Missouri
New Jersey
New Mexico
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Virginia
West Virginia
Wisconsin