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Common Name:

Little Bluestem

Scientific Name:

Schizachyrium scoparium

Family Name:

Poaceae (Gramineae)


Little Bluestem is one of the most widespread and recognizable of our native U.S. wild grasses. This medium size erect clump-forming grass is valued for its outstanding green to blue-green summer foliage which is followed in autumn by rich browns, often flushed orange, red or bronzish purple. The flowering and fruiting effects are secondary on this species to its handsome foliage colors. Plants are adapted to a range of exposures and sites as long as they are mostly sunny and the soils are well drained. This species is found throughout Central and Eastern North America. It is becoming more popular in cultivated gardens and as always is a first rate naturalizing plant for meadows, wildscapes, and transition landscapes.

Plant Habit or Use:

Perennial, groundcover, grasses


sun, partial sun

Flower Color:

Off white to dirty white; in sparse loose irregular short racemets off the central axis of the flower stalk.

Blooming Period:

Summer, fall

Fruit Characteristics:

Awned seeds resulting in fluffy gray-white to silvery racemes widely spaced on the central axis.


2 ft to 3 ft (5 ft)


18 inch to 36 inch

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Non-Defined Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Non-Defined Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Non-Defined Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Non-Defined Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Non-Defined Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

USDA Hardiness Zones:

3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Where well adapted, plants may reseed. Avoid mowing or over grazing as all that is required is removal of old foliage prior to spring growth to keep plants neat.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.