Plants - Ornamental Grasses

Natural selection: Indiangrass

Grow this drought-tolerant plant to attract birds and butterflies to the garden

Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)
* Zone 4
* Native from 
New Brunswick to Saskatchewan

Clump-forming, self-seeding Indiangrass was the second most prevalent grass (after big bluestem) of our once vast North American tallgrass prairie. A warm season species, it grows one to two metres tall and produces lovely showy panicles of copper-coloured flowers with bright yellow pollen sacs in late summer. In the autumn, the seedheads turn golden-bronze and the foliage goes from yellow to glorious orange.

Indiangrass tolerates a wide range of soil con­ditions, including heavy clay, and is often used for erosion control on slopes; dried or fresh, it also makes a great cut flower.

It grows best in a full sun location and is drought-tolerant once established.
Rick Darke, former curator of plants at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, selected a form he named ‘Sioux Blue’, which sports powder-blue leaf blades; another selection, ‘Indian Steel’, has blue-green foliage.

Fast fact: Indiangrass is a larval host for skipper butterflies, and will attract a wide range of small mammals, birds and other butterflies to your garden.

Shot on location at Wildflower Farm.


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