3 to 6 ft. depending on water
2 to 3 ft.
prairies of central North America
USDA zones 3-7
hardy to 9,500 ft.
Big bluestem is tall native grass that can be used as an ornamental grass in landscapes. It is a major component of the tall grass prairies of the central and eastern United States.
In the summer, big bluestem grows as a 3-foot-tall arching clump of blue-green leaves. The flowering stalks emerge in late summer and grow as tall as six feet. The seedheads often have three branches, which causes them to resemble a turkey's foot. They sway in the breeze atop the long, flexible stems.
In fall, the leaves turn color in beautiful combinations of pink, orange, rust, and purple.
Big bluestem is tolerant of many different soil types. It is adaptable to a wide range of moisture conditions, surviving during drought and thriving during wetter periods.
Big bluestem has proven to be an attractive ornamental grass at the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden. Its most attractive season is fall, when the seedheads have reached their full height and the leaves have begun to turn bright red.
Its overall shape is more open and upright than other ornamental grasses like maiden grass or giant sacaton.
This is a useful, decorative, native grass for the Colorado Springs area. It will become floppy if it receives any shade during the day.
In spring, cut back the old leaves and stems to the ground before the new growth starts. Volunteer seedlings may need to be removed.