Little Bluestem is an often over looked native yet very ornamental grass. This may be due to its intimidating Latin name but I suspect it’s because it is hard to document its charm in photographs…perhaps a video could capture its grace in motion. We’ve grown the selection Blue Heaven in our garden (see above) for a half dozen years, and it continues to impress us with its upright narrow foliage that transforms in color: almost powder blue in spring and summer, changing to plum wine tones in early fall, and becoming a stunning amber gold in early December. We’ve been impressed with how well it holds up to snow loads, springing upright as the white stuff melts away.
There are now a number of selected forms to choose from. ’Standing Ovation’ is a bit shorter (3-4) than ‘Blue Heaven’ (closer to 4). ‘Standing Ovation’ turns a very rich coppery red in the fall, later aging to a warm caramel color in winter. ’Carousel’ is more compact and wide growing, growing 3’ x 3’, and its light blue green foliage takes on pink to wine tones in mid summer, with a multicolor effect, of pink, wine, and mahogany tones in the fall. We are excited about offering two new forms in 2015: Schizachyrium ’Smoke Signal ‘ and ‘Twilight Zone’. ’Smoke Signal’, maturing at 3-4′, begins to turn red in late summer, but as the fall unfolds the color becomes a dark purple. ’Twilight Zone’ gets a bit taller at 48-54”, with a narrow upright form. It holds its silvery blue color longer, developing dark purple highlights in autumn. These new forms reportedly share the same non flopping characteristics as ‘Blue Heaven’ (aka ‘MinnBlue’).
Do you need more convincing to grow this grass? Here you go: Little Bluestem is drought tolerant once established, deer resistant, tolerant of windy sites, adapts to a wide range of soil types except very wet soils, and is exceptionally cold hardy , zones 3-9.