Schizachyrium scoparium

Little Bluestem

$3.00 - $21.00

1 oz.
1 lb.

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

Little Bluestem is an iconic warm season grass of the prairie habitat that is commonly used in both landscaping and restoration projects. In shortgrass prairies, it is often the dominant species along with Side-oats Grama. In tallgrass prairies, companion grasses include Big Bluestem, Indian Grass, and Switch Grass.

One of the most widely distributed species of grass in the US, Little Bluestem is very drought-tolerant, but it can do well in moist situations too. Farmers have used this species for hay, but consecutive years of haying will likely cause the species to disappear. In a garden setting, Little Bluestem is valued for its blue-green color in the summer and, after the first frost, it turns beautiful shades of brown, copper, and crimson that will remain all winter. The grass gets fluffy white seed heads that also adds seasonal interest. Some gardeners choose to remove the seed fluff to control the spread of young seedlings.

Little Bluestem is an excellent plant for wildlife. Little Bluestem serves as the larval host for several skipper species including the Dusted Skipper, Cobweb Skipper, Ottoe Skipper, Indian Skipper, Swarthy Skipper, and the Crossline Skipper. Other insects that feed on Little Bluestem include grasshoppers, Prairie Walkingsticks, the leaf-mining beetles, thrips, spittlebugs, and leafhoppers. The seeds of this grass are eaten by songbirds. Little bluestem provides necessary overwintering habitat and resources for many insects and birds. Female bumble bee queens nest at the base of bunch grasses, like Little Bluestem, where they are protected until they emerge in the Spring. 

Other names for this plant include Andropogon scoparius and Beardgrass.

Live Plant Shipping Table

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

Schizachyrium scoparium - Little 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.

12 Questions asked on Schizachyrium scoparium

What is the seeding rate for a solid stand of this prairie grass?
We would suggest about 14 lbs/acre, or 6 oz/1000 sq ft on Little Bluestem.
Would it be possible to direct sow little bluestem in the early fall? Or would its nature, which is to grow after the weather gets warm, against that kind of early root expansion? I live in MA.
Hi Mary. Good question, but no, we wouldn’t advise it. Little Blue is a warm season grass and the seeds need no overwintering to germinate (Germ Code: A) so with warm soils in the month of September, it likely will germinate. The hard frosts soon to come in October could kill the young seedlings that haven’t had a chance to really take root. Spring would be the better time to sow a Germ Code A, warm-season prairie grasses like Little Blue, Big Blue, Indian Grass, Side-oats Grama, Switch Grass, etc.
Does little bluestem tend to be invasive in a small garden area (Zone 6)?
Hi Moss. I wouldn't call it invasive, but it will re-seed. If you transplant a potted plant, that Little Blue will keep its place and shape in your small garden. But, as the plant matures and sets seed each fall, you will find baby bluestems popping up here and there. They are easy to ID as they have a blue tint and can be plucked out without much effort.
How long does it take the seeds to germinate?
Hi Keriann, Warm season grasses need soil temperatures that are at least 70°F. We have found with daytime temperatures of 70-85°F, Little Bluestem will germinate in 1-3 weeks. Warmer temperatures will result in faster germination times and direct lighting, like full sun, is beneficial.
Does this grass flop over in winter, or stay upright like panic grass?
Hi Lucy, This grass usually stays upright and looks absolutely beautiful in the winter! Searching "winter interest" on our website brings up a list of plants that we think look nice in the winter, including Little Bluestem!
Will rabbits eat this? Should I take some precautions (e.g., chicken wire) when first planted?
Hi Doug, In our experience, the rabbits don't browse this plant in the garden. In general though, protecting young plants with chicken wire is a great idea!
Could you please give an approximate age of the Little Bluestem potted plants at the time they are ready to ship?
Hi Becky. Our Little Bluestem potted plants are sown in a series and their age ranges between 3 to 9 months old.
Would Little Bluestem be able to thrive in an area partially seeded with dutch white clover? Would it likely eventually out-compere the clover?
Hi Barbara. The Little Bluestem should germinate and grow as long as there are some bare patches within the clover for it to establish. After that, these two species should be fairly harmonious; the Little Bluestem rarely cedes its space in a garden, but it is not overly aggressive, either.
Should old foliage be cut back in spring? I want to make sure I don't harm any overwintering caterpillars on the grass. Thanks!
Hi Janelle. Because Little Bluestem is a warm season grass, old foliage can be trimmed back any time during the spring season. Prune at about 6-8" for the best caterpillar support. This tidies up the garden and fresh foliage will quickly grow beyond that trim point.
Instead of directly sowing these seeds into their ultimate destination I sowed them into a garden bed. (It’s been a very dry spring out in the NE and I thought it would be an easier way to tend their growth.) I now have many tiny blades of grass. How far apart should I space them in the garden when transplanting? I’d like to create “clumps “ of grass amidst the flowers. Thanks!
Hi Karen. Once those Little Bluestem seedlings are a bit more developed, they can be transplanted at our recommended 2-3' spacing - or about 1' apart to get that clumped look in a shorter amount of time.
How late into the year can this be started from seed in southern Wisconsin (zone 5a). Could it be started in pots to transplant into a garden once it is larger and has taken the desired shape?
Hi Nicole. Little Bluestem can be started at any point with no pre-treatment required. Especially if starting the seeds in pots, an earlier start time is beneficial so the seedlings can grow sufficient roots to survive a late-season transplant.
Hi, I successfully germinated about 25 Little Bluestem plants using your seeds. It’s July now and they look robust and have a healthy root system. However, a lot of the leaves started turning yellow while they were still in their pots. Does that indicate overwatering? Now that they are planted, I’m hoping they turn blue green. What do you think?
Hi Janis. Congrats on your cute new Lil Blue! Potted plants will sometimes turn yellow if they don't have a chance to dry out between waterings. Now that they are in the ground, they should perk up. Be sure to water deeply, but only about once a week.


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.

US 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, Medium-Dry, Dry
3 feet
Bloom Time
July, August, September, October
Bloom Color
Green, Blue
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Deer Resistant
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code