Schizachyrium scoparium  Blue Heaven™ ('MinnBlueA') 

Blue Heaven little bluestem    Perennial of the Month-- November 2014 Perry caricature

 (pronunciation at link)  (sciz-ah-kear' ee-um  sco-pair' ee-um)

Common name:  Blue Heaven little bluestem

Family:  Poaceae, grass

Height x width: 3-4ft x 1.5-2ft.(taller than other similar cultivars)

Growth rate, habit: moderate, erect narrow upright clump that doesn't lodge under normal culture and good conditions

Foliage: burgundy red fall foliage often with other colors including pink and orange; slender to 1/4in. wide, bluish with burgundy highlights in summer, broom-like appearance; pinkish stems (culms)

Flowers: purplish-bronze in 3in. long racemes near tips in fall, on branched stems; fluffy white seedheads follow into early winter 

Hardiness:  USDA zones 3-9

Soil: average to dry, well-drained; tolerates a range including heavy clay, dry, alkaline  

Light: full sun 

Pests and problems: none significant, may rot if too wet, may flop if too little light or too much fertility  

Landscape habit, uses:  borders, massed along walks or walls, contemporary gardens, prairie gardens with other wildflowers, wildlife gardens; combines well with perennial salvia, sedum, purple smokebush, false indigo, coreopsis, yarrow, Russian sage, other grasses

Other interest:  a warm season grass (waits until warm weather to resume growth in spring) which tolerates high heat and humidity; provides nesting and food (seeds) and protection for birds, food of several butterfly and moth larvae; deep rooting make it drought tolerant, but also more difficult to transplant; species is native to open woods and fields (tallgrass prairies in particular) in much of eastern North America, state grass of Nebraska, species was cultivated by early settlers and ranchers as forage for cattle; this cultivar has better gray-blue foliage than the species, may still be seen listed in former genus Andropogon; this cultivar is a natural variant found in 1996 in a field of seed-sown plants near Princeton, MN by Dr. Mary Hockenberry Meyer of the Univ. of Minn.; included in the National Ornamental Grass Trials (http://grasstrials.com/) and in the Vermont site of these trials, the top rated cultivar of this genus.

Other culture: cut to several inches (3-4) above ground level in late winter or early spring; thrives on neglect, good plant for eroded or tough sites

Propagation:  commercially by licensed propagators (PP17,310), home--divide in spring if needed

Sources:  many online and local specialty nurseries



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