Big Bluestem Grass - Andropogon gerardi
Big Bluestem Grass, also known as turkeyfoot, is a hardy perennial native to the Great Plains. It will reach its full height of 5-8 feet in its first year of growth. Big bluestem grows in large clumps that add a natural, nostalgic feel to any landscape. During spring and early summer, the tall stalks of grass are a rich, vivid green. In late summer and fall, they change to an attractive reddish bronze and produce a three-part seed pod that resembles the foot of a bird, hence the plant's nickname. In addition to being visually appealing, big bluestem grass has a number of environmental benefits. It helps prevent erosion and can be used as an eco-friendly feed for livestock. It is often included in restoration projects aimed at revitalizing prairie ecosystems.
Big bluestem grass thrives in Zones 4-9 and in almost all soil types. As this plant originated in a prairie environment, it is capable of tolerating arid, nutrient-poor soils. It may be planted outdoors in early spring, or started indoors in a greenhouse. If starting in a greenhouse, plant 6-10 seeds per nursery pot. Water regularly and thin after one month of growth. After the danger of frost has passed, transfer seedlings outdoors and plant 2-3 feet apart. If starting outdoors, plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and water regularly. Sprouts should appear within four weeks. Big bluestem does best in full sun. Once started, it requires little maintenance besides regular watering.
There are a number of potential uses for big bluestem on your property - creating a privacy screen without unsightly fencing, adding a border or accent to a garden, or contributing a burst of late-season color. Whatever your purpose, big bluestem grass is an environmentally responsible choice for your landscaping needs.