Sorghastrum nutans

Indian Grass

$3.00 - $159.00

1 oz.
1 lb.

3 Pack
Tray of 38
Out of Stock
Tray of 50

Indian Grass is one of the first warm season grasses to form seeds and they are rich clusters of bronze colored seed. Golden stems and large seed heads provide ample color and texture to plantings and birds will enjoy the seeds come fall.  Plants are wind-pollinated. Indian Grass can be aggressive, spreading by rhizomes, so is not suited for very small landscapes. Different species of grasshoppers and caterpillars will feed on the blades of Indian Grass; in turn these insects are important food sources for upland game birds and song birds, where they will also find ideal nesting habitat in stands of tall prairie grasses such as Indian Grass.

Indian Grass is one of the host plants of the Pepper and Salt Skipper and the Ottoe Skipper

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!

Sorghastrum nutans - Indian Grass

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 Sorghastrum nutans

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 Indian Grass.
Hi, I want to transplant some Indian grass. What's the best time and how quickly will it spread?
Hi Jennifer, Spring and Fall are both excellent times to transplant if planting potted plants with established root systems. This plant can spread by underground rhizomes. The rate of spreading is hard to predict as it depends on the environment and the amount of competition. If there is low vegetative competition it may spread quite quickly and overwhelm a small garden.
What sort of soil should I spread before planting indian grass seeds? I've suffocated a section of my lawn grass with a tarp for several months, and now I plan to bury the dead grass with topsoil before sowing the new seeds. Is normal topsoil adequate, or should I purchase a more nutrient rich soil?
Hi David, Honestly we usually don’t recommend adding anything to your native soils because it’s not worth the time and labor and these tall prairie grasses won’t need it. You can rake off the dead grass and sow directly into that. Native plants like Indian Grass are evolved to grow here in North America and usually don’t require the same types of ‘perfect’ conditions many non-native, horticultural varieties do. If you could grow turf lawn on that site, I wouldn’t anticipate any issues with growing Indian Grass.

We tend to be very skeptical of adding soils because they can contain weed seeds, and set you back with all that site preparation you’ve already worked to hard to accomplish. If you would like to go all-out and add topsoil or compost you sure can, but be skeptical of your source. Ask them where the topsoil or compost came from, and if they can guarantee it is weed-free. If they tell you it’s weed-free, ask what methodology they’re using to kill the weed seeds. On a commercial scale, their answer should be “heat” in some way, shape, or form. It’s also important to ask if they know about invasive Jumping Worms, and what they’re doing to ensure they’re not spreading this pest around.

Can I start this from seed in the Summer (July) and plant in the fall or will it not establish itself before winter? Or should I wait until late winter/early spring to start indoors with seed starter and then transplant? I'm in zone 8A.
Hi Dale, You may have to supplement some moisture to get your seed to germinate and keep your seedlings happy in the mid-summer heat. But you should have time in zone 8 to get this grass established if you start it now. You could start indoors in late winter, or just sow your seeds in-situ in late fall or winter, and they will germinate in spring.
We are converting a no longer football field at our school in NW Iowa into a learning prairie area. It is 1 acre. I want to use the PDQ mix and then incorporate assorted grass seeds in it. What would be the weight of the different grass seeds that we should mix into the PDQ? In other words, the Q an A shows that about 12lbs per acre if you want a solid stand of it, but we don't want that, but instead a good mix of everything blooming often through the season. The Elementary students will be using this as an areas to study everything that comes with a prairie. Thank you.
Hi Chris, It'll depend what your goals are with the planting, and what species of grasses you are referring to. For Sorghastrum nutans, I would probably recommend something between 4-16 ounces per acre if you are adding it to the PDQ mix (depending on how much you'd like to see). I recommend calling us at 507-452-1362, and one of our knowledgeable consultants can help you think through the project.
I have a 4’ wide strip next to my house with neighbors drive butting up next to it. Can I plant Indian grass there or is there something I’m not thinking about?
Hi Stephanie, As long has your sun and soil conditions are suitable, it sounds like a great spot for it.


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, Medium-Dry, Dry
6 feet
Bloom Time
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