Native Plants Series: Big Bluestem

Big bluestem (andropogon gerardii) is a tall clumping grass native to all but the westernmost US.



Andropogon are a host plant to 13 species of butterfly and moth caterpillars here in South Central PA. Big bluestem can reach 4-6' tall and 2-3' wide. It provides nice winter intrest, so try not to cut it back until late winter, just before new growth appears. You can divide in spring if necessary. Once established, big blue stem is very drought tolerant, and may topple over if planted in soil that is too rich. Use this grass at the back of your planting bed, in mass as a screen (please don't make a circle around your utility box, though!), or in a meadow/prairie-type garden.


Sources: National Wildlife Federation, USDA Native Plants Database, Missouri Botanical Garden


Photo: @prairie_godmother on Instagram

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