Little Bluestem in the Landscape Image Credit

Little Bluestem is the Perennial Plant of the Year for 2022

Little Bluestem grass has been selected by the Perennial Plant Association as the Perennial Plant of the Year (PPOY) for 2022. We love this ornamental grass, and are pleased to see it getting the attention it deserves. They have included all of the cultivars of this grass in the designation, and recommend 'Standing Ovation' for the Canada Region. Little Bluestem is known as Schizachyrium scoparium, and was previously known as Adropogon scoparius, so you may still find it under that name.

Schizachyrium scoparium Standing Ovation Image Credit Northcreek Nurseries

So what is this plant?

Its an ornamental grass, native to most of North America.
It has a rich blue foliage turns sizzling red-orange throughout the fall and bronze into the winter, it grows to 120 cm height and 60 com in width. Its 'bloom time' is August through September and is hardy to zone 4 . It is deer resistant, drought tolerant and low maintenance. It prefers to grow in the sun.

Why was it chosen?

Partly because it is a native plant but also because its versatile and different. As the selection committee writes: "Summer through fall, the slender leaves and stems of little bluestem are an ever-changing kaleidoscope of gray-green, blue, pink, purple, copper, mahogany, red, and orange tones. Wispy silver-white seed heads sparkle in autumn sunlight and coppery brown leaves persist through winter. Little bluestem is a tough and dependable clumping grass that blends well with perennials such as asters, sedums, coneflowers, and other grasses. Native grasses play their part in the pollinator story too. Little bluestem is a larval host for a variety of butterflies and moths"

Who chooses the Perennial of the year ?

The Perennial Plant Association is a non profit, North American wide trade association composed of growers, retailers, landscape designers and contractors, educators, and other gardeners who are interested in and promote the use and growth of Perennials. Their mission is to connect professionals, provide education and promote the use of Perennials. Read More

Schizachyrium scoparium Standing Ovation in fall Image Credit Northcreek Nurseries

Is an ornamental grass for you?

An ornamental grass can find a place in your garden in a number of ways. Alone or as a stand of grass they can form a screen or a backdrop of other plants. They can also add a lot of texture and motion to your garden as the grass will sway or move in the breeze. Additionally, since they are drought resistant and sun loving they can be the perfect plant for a spot that does not get enough water or a lot of sun. And if you have deer, they are generally deer resistant.
The Little Blue Stem will be greenish blue in the growing season, a colour that will pair up well with other flowering plants in your garden and turns to a reddish bronze colour in the fall. Full grown, this grass, while termed little will grow to about 90 cm in height. It is described as 'not too short, not too tall.'

If you want to read more about the use of grasses in your garden, Better Homes and Gardens wrote this great article.