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Andropogon gerardii (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Andropogon gerardii (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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Zone
Zones 1-10, 14-24
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Andropogon gerardii

Big Bluestem, Turkeyfoot
Poaceae (Gramineae)
Ornamental grasses and grasslike plants, Perennials

This is the classic tall prairie grass of the Midwest, where it can reach 8 ft. high. In drier climates, it’s more likely to grow 3–5 ft. tall. A  clump former (to about 3 ft. wide), it does not ordinarily spread by rhizomes. Thin blades are blue green in summer, turning bronzy red or coppery in fall. Flowers are unshowy but interesting; purplish spikes to 4 in. long, borne at stem ends in sets of three or more (arranged like a turkey’s foot).

Tolerates a range of soil and moisture conditions. Cut dried stems to base yearly before new spring growth begins. Divide clump when center starts to die. Effective screen when massed if given regular water. A single plant makes a good accent in a mixed border.

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