Sorghastrum nutans - Indian
Indian grass, along with Switch grass and Big Bluestem once
dominated millions of acres in central N. America. Sorghastrum
is the most widely adaptable of the three, thus making it an
excellent choice for many low-maintenance gardens. Its beauty
lies in the many reddish-brown flowers which are high-lighted
by brilliant yellow anthers. Excellent for flower arrangements.
Also useful for roadside beautification projects and erosion control.
It is a North American native plant - one of the tall prairie grasses.
Description: warm season; sod forming (slow spreader)
Foliage is green; medium blade width; 80-120 cm (32-48")
Flowers July until frost, 120-220 cm (48-90")
Ideal conditions: full sun to light shade; likes
moist fertile soil but is very drought tolerant once established
Coldest zone: 3 (find your
zone; further info on plant hardiness)
Partner with: Andropogon,
officinalis, Panicum, Coreopsis
Season of interest: August to winter
Native to: North America - from Quebec
to Manitoba and south to Mexico
Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once
every 2 weeks); further info
Recommended spacing between plants: 60-100cm (24-40")
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 4" from the crown of the plant.
Pronunciation: Sorghastrum (sor-GAS-trum)
Menu of ornamental grasses
Compare Sorghastrum nutans to our other grasses
in this handy chart.