Why plant Audubon® Native Little Bluestem?
Having the blues never felt so good! The Blues Little Bluestem will make beautiful music in your landscape. In spring, the intro sets the tone while cool blue blades arise, making a sharply vertical impression. Planted in masses in your garden, this upright element creates a sense of rhythm. In early fall, the foliage strikes a new chord when it changes from sky-blue to raspberry-red. At the same time, wispy white flower plumes appear like high notes in a sweet melody. It’s a performance you’ll enjoy year after year, and you’ll have the best seat in the house!
Little Bluestem belongs to the rich natural heritage of North America. This adaptable Fringe is native to southern Canada from Alberta to Quebec and to virtually all of the continental U.S. except for the West Coast. Its strongest association, however, is with the prairies. It once stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other grasses and wildflowers in the vast tallgrass prairies that covered our nation’s heartland. On the southern plains, this plant had a special purpose for the Kiowa-Apache. It was gathered together to make switches used for driving the evil spirits out of people during sweat lodge ceremonies. The Blues Little Bluestem was introduced by Maryland nurseryman Kurt Bluemel.
How to use Audubon® Native Little Bluestem in the landscape?
Butterflies! When you think of butterfly-attracting plants, Fringes may not have a place on that list, but The Blues Little Bluestem actually makes a worthy addition to your butterfly garden. It serves as a host plant for several species of small skipper butterflies.
Hardiness Zone: 3-9
How To Plant Audubon® Native Little Bluestem
The Blues Little Bluestem responds well to tough love. Give it baking sun, fast-draining soil, little to no fertilizer, and little to no supplemental water once established. Take care to keep mulch away from the crown of the plant as well. This strict regimen will encourage strong, compact, self-supporting growth. More lush conditions will make this Fringe flop. Leave seedheads standing for winter interest and to feed the birds. In early spring, shear the stems back to a few inches from the ground to make way for new blue blades to emerge.
How To Water
Water twice weekly for the first 3-5 weeks; then water weekly for the remainder of the year until winter. When you water, water very slowly and very thoroughly. The water needs to reach to the bottom of the root ball and that takes time. Watering needs may be altered due to extreme weather conditions.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant food granular form on an annual basis each late year. Continue this for three years to get your plant well established.
How To Prune
Each fall, just before winter sets in clean up the previous years foliage and compost it. Be sure your perennials are mulched well for winter protection. Two inches of an organic mulch will do the job. Consider leaving the plant debris in place through the winter and doing your clean up on the weather warms in the spring. While it doesn't make things neat and tidy, the debris provides overwintering protection for insects, their eggs and pupae including our native Viceroy butterfly.