Sorghastrum nutans - Indian Grass

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, Valeriana officinalis, Panicum, Coreopsis tripteris

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) nutans (NOO-tanz)


Menu of ornamental grasses

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Sorghastrum nutans - Indian Grass


from the USDA website: states and provinces
where Sorghastrum nutans is native