nodding heads on blue ribbons


Sorghastrum nutans

  • Moderate to regular WATER (bottom ZONE)

  • FULL to part SUN

  • HARDY TO -30º F,

  • 3-4 FEET TALL AND WIDE, much larger in more favorable conditions

  • nodding plumes in fall on blue ribbon-like leaves

  • LARVAL HOST TO THE pepper-and-salt-skipper

  • habitat for wildlife and constituent of the almost extinct tall-prairie grasslands of the united states and canada

Indiangrass grows in a wide range of habitats, from prairies to woodlands, savannahs, and scrubland vegetation. Native from Canada to Mexico, it was one of the four principal grasses of the tall-grass prairie that occupied the central United States prior to agricultural development of the region.

In our region it normally is seen at about 3-4 feet tall and wide, but in a spot with enriched soil and moisture it can get tall like a sacaton (6 feet or more). The leaf blades have a blueish hue, and in fall are adorned with nodding, plume-like, soft, golden-brown seed heads. Foliage may turn a purplish brown in fall (still gorgeous) but may not do so in warm areas.

Plant in full to part sun, regular to moderate water, and if you cut this plant back, please do so in late winter before the new foliage emerges. January is a good time.

Plants often look ragged in a container. Plant and watch them explode with beauty.

Great habitat for all sorts of creatures: reptiles, native bees, butterflies, birds. Larval host for the pepper-and-salt skipper butterfly, Amblyscirtes hegon.

Katherine Gierlach