Andropogon gerardii

Big Bluestem

$3.00 - $149.00

1 oz.
1 lb.

3 Pack
Out of Stock
Tray of 38
Out of Stock
Tray of 50

Big Bluestem is a warm season grass; it actively grows during the summer when soil temperatures are warm.  It is a big plant, getting over six feet tall in most situations.  In a landscape it can be used as an accent, but it can be aggressive so is not recommended for small spaces.  It has great fall color in the range of gold and pink.  

Big Bluestem is the host to many insects, including Northern Pearly-eye, Common-Wood Nymph, Ottoe Skipper, Cobweb Skipper, Dusted Skipper, Delaware Skipper, Arogos Skipper, and Indian Skipper. This well-known prairie staple plays an extremely important role in native prairie ecosystems and provides habitat for many insects, small mammals, and birds. 

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Potted 3-Packs May/June September 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots
Potted Trays of 38* May/June N/A 2" wide x 5" deep plugs
Potted Trays of 50 May August 2" wide x 5" deep plugs
*This species is a choice in the Mix & Match - Create Your Own Tray!

Andropogon gerardii - Big Bluestem

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

6 Questions asked on Andropogon gerardii

What is the seeding rate for a solid stand of this prairie grass?
We would suggest about 12 lbs/acre, or 5 oz/1000 sq ft on Big Bluestem.
I have 4 of these plants that have been planted for 2 seasons and doing wonderful. I am interested in relocating them, when is the best time for that? Can I move them now (mid July) before they go to seed?
HI Annette. I would not move them now. Big Blue is a warm season grass so it is actively growing now as the soil temps are warm. Wait until October.

Even after just 2 seasons, you're going to find the root system to be very deep. Dig as deep as you can but don't be overly concerned about tearing all the fibrous roots. It will transplant just fine.

Will this plant tolerate occasional standing water in early spring?
Hi Stephanie, Big Bluestem does make a home in medium-wet soils, but it doesn't usually tolerate standing water.
When should you sow these seeds? Late fall?
Hi Elise. Big Bluestem is a warm-season prairie grass that does not need to overwinter to germinate so, yes, sow seed on a prepared (weed free) site late fall through next spring. If you plant early fall there is the risk that a warm spell will trigger germination and then the seedlings won't be large enough to survive the coming hard frosts.
Can Big Bluestem seed be planted alongside Indian Grass seed or will one overtake the other as they mature?
Hi Eric, Big Bluestem and Indian Grass are wonderful companion plants. You can plant them both together, just like in the tallgrass prairie. Both can behave semi-aggressively in the right conditions so the site will dictate if one does better than the other in the long term.
Would its alacrity in spreading be subdued by harsh winter cold/ summer heat, prolonged dryness (we rarely get rain, and water irregularly). Thank you
Hi there,

It’s true that environmental conditions can slow the rate of growth, and is likely to not be as aggressive in adverse conditions. With that said, Big Bluestem can handle the scorching heat of Arizona, survive the -40 degree polar vortex in Minnesota, and is drought tolerant. This plant is a tough cookie!


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
7 feet
Bloom Time
June, July, August, September
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Deer Resistant
Recommended for home landscaping but potentially aggressive; could overwhelm small landscapes
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code