Return to the Ornamental Grasses Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
little bluestem groundcover?

Posted by castorp z9 FL (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 24, 10 at 13:06

I'm wondering if little bluestem would be a good groundcover choice for zone 9, Florida. I was thinking about just buying a forage variety and sowing in the autumn.

The conditions are quite harsh here--long growing season, poor soil, spring droughts, high temps, summer monsoons, hurricanes, etc.

I'm looking for a good dependable perennial grass that will grow thick but not too tall. I want it to look good into the autumn.

I've experimented with grasses native to this area in the past and I've been dissatisfied. They tend to be thin and wiry and take a long time to fill back in after mowing. Some of the lusher varieties like Indian grass struggled in the poor sand. Other varieties grew too large.

I'm currently experimenting with purple lovegrass. I like it so far, but donn here on this forum has warned me of its invasiveness so I'm considering alternatives.

I'm very open to other ideas.

Thank you.

Bill


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: little bluestem groundcover?

  • Posted by donn_ 7b, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 24, 10 at 13:46

Little Bluestem is incredibly tough. Once established, almost nothing bothers it. The species grows to 3' in my zone, and with your conditions, 4' wouldn't surprise me. Cultivars like 'Blues' and 'Blaze' are a little shorter, but can't be grown from seed.

In my opinion, that's too tall for a groundcover, and cutting a meadow of it without appropriate machinery would be a real chore. If burning is allowed in your area, that would be the way to do it.

You might want to look at some of the Carex varieties. Many of them are made to order for your climate, are lower growing, are semi-evergreen and can be grown from seed or plugs.


 o
RE: little bluestem groundcover?

Thanks, donn

Yes, three to four feet would be way too tall, so little bluestem is out.

I've been investigating Carex. There are many dozens of them native to our area, but I'm having a hard time figuring out which are the best varieties for the garden. Many of the ones I've read about being used in garden situations are rated for zone 8 or lower, so I'm reluctant to try them here on the zone 9a/b border. Lots of zone 8 plants struggle here. None of my native plant books have much to say about using carex either. Seems like I remember the book "The American Meadow Garden" recommends a sedge for this area. I'll have to check it out from the library again. Thanks for the tip!

Bill


 o
RE: little bluestem groundcover?

  • Posted by donn_ 7b, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 25, 10 at 12:36

Hi Bill,

Here's a partial list of Carex which are hardy to and through zone 9:

buchananii
cherokeensis
ciliatomarginata 'Treasure Island'
conica 'Snowline'
dolichostachya 'Kaga-nishiki' GOLD
elata
elata 'Aurea'
flacca
glauca 'Blue Zinger'
grayi (easy from seed)
laxiculmis 'Hobb' BUNNY BLUE
morrowii (many cultivars)
muskingumensis (easy from seed)
oshimensis (many cultivars)
phyllocephala 'Sparkler'
siderosticha (many cultivars)


 o
RE: little bluestem groundcover?

Thanks for the list, donn! I'm researching them and considering. . .


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Ornamental Grasses Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here