Schizachyrium scoparium 'Itasca' - Itasca Little Bluestem

aka Andropogon scoparius

As with most types of Little Bluestem, the main feature (other than its form and flowers) is the fall colour. S. 'Itasca' is seed grown and produces varying heights and fall colours. We have been tempted to select some of the most interesting plants to propagate, but in all honesty, so many of these plants are unique that it is hard to decide which to pick. We have concentrated on selecting shorter plants to propagate, so that our selection is distinctly shorter than the species Schizachyrium scoparium and S. scoparium 'Blaze'. S. Itasca also blooms earlier.

In the autumn, individual plants will have more than one colour of leaves or the flowering culms will be one colour and the leaves another. Colours range from purples to reds and blues, then after a hard frost, russet.

Description: warm season; clump forming
Foliage is green; 7mm (1/4") wide; varies from 40-80 cm (16-32") in height
Flowers July to Sept; 60-100 cm (24-40') tall

Ideal conditions: full sun to open shade; tolerates a wide range of conditions; well drained soil; excessive moisture and fertile soil will cause the tall flower stems to fall over

Coldest zone: 3 (find your zone; further info on plant hardiness)

Season of interest: August to winter

Native to: the species is native to prairies and open woods, dry fields and hills of North America, from Quebec to Alberta and south to Arizona and Florida

Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once every 2 weeks); further info

Recommended spacing between plants: 45-90 cm (18-36") why such a difference?

When to divide: when it shows signs of life in the spring, continuing until the new growth is about 12" tall; only in the spring (further info on dividing grasses)

When to plant or transplant: plant bare root plants only in late spring to early summer, when the soil is warm, about the same time you plant your bean or corn seeds. The roots will grow only in warm soil. Planting too early in the spring may cause the roots to rot. Similar story in the fall when the roots may not grow enough to establish before the cold and wet of winter, resulting in the demise of the plant.

When to cut back: before the new growth starts to appear, but after the cold weather is over. Cut back to about 3-4" from the crown of the plant.

Pronounced: Schizachyrium (skits-ah-KEER-ee-um) scoparium (skoh-PAIR-ee-um)

Menu of ornamental grasses

Compare Schizachyrium scoparium 'Itasca' to our other grasses in this handy chart.


Schizachyrium scoparium 'Itasca'


from the USDA website: states and provinces where
Schizachyrium scoparium is native

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