photo of Andropogon gerardii

Andropogon gerardii

Big Bluestem

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Big Bluestem is a tall, attractive, drought-tolerant native grass with colorful foliage and enormous benefits for wildlife.

See Details Below


Big Bluestem is a warm season perennial bunchgrass. Its attractive colorful foliage makes it an excellent native to replace any invasive ornamental grasses in your yard. Once established, the extensive root system offers substantial drought tolerance. It can withstand sandy soils, slight acidity and some salinity. It also offers deer resistance. Big Bluestem provides enormous value for wildlife, including birds, bees and butterflies!

Wildlife Value: Seeds provide food for birds including Grasshopper Sparrow and Henslow’s Sparrow. The vegetation provides cover and nesting material for Sedge Wren and Meadowlark. Native bees use the vegetation for nesting material and structural protection for their nests. Big Bluestem is a larval host plant for Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan) and Dusted Skipper (Atrytonopsis hianna) butterflies.

Plant Details:

Other Scientific Names: Andropogon gerardii

Other Common Names: Turkeyfoot

Plant Type: Grass

New Jersey Native: Yes

Bloom Times: Late Summer to Fall

Bloom Colors: Purple

Deer Resistance: Some

Attracts Pollinators and Wildlife: Bees and Other Pollinators, Butterflies, Birds

Salt Tolerance: Medium

Hardiness Zone: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b

Physiographic Region: All Regions in NJ

Soil Characteristics

Soil Type: Loam, Organic, Clay

Soil Moisture: Dry, Moist

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic, Neutral

Light Needs of Plant

Optimal Light: Full Sun

Light Range: Full Sun, Partial Shade

Water Needs of Plant

Soil Moisture: Dry, Moist

Drought Tolerance: Medium

Size and Growth Rate

Height: 4 - 8 ft

Spread: 2 - 3 ft

Growth Rate: Slow