How to Grow Splitbeard Bluestem

Splitbeard bluestem. image by Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS


Splitbeard bluestem, also known botanically as andropogon ternarius, is a perennial cover grass with a bunching growth habit. It thrives in well-drained soil with a high sand or gravel component, such as that found in undisturbed plains, meadows, slopes, edges of woods and as a garden border specimen. Hardy in USDA zones 6 through 9, it is grown as an ornamental and for forage, habitat and erosion prevention. Bluestem prefers full sun but will tolerate some partial or filtered shade.

Step 1

Plant rooted bluestem plants in average quality soil maintaining the pre-established planting depth in the soil. Gently compact the soil around the roots to ensure good root to soil contact. Water in well to help the establishment process. Plant tufts at least 10 inches apart when establishing a naturalized stand of grass.

Step 2

Water your splitbeard bluestem infrequently to augment natural rainfall. As it grows easily in dry soils when established, irrigation is called for only to augment natural rainfall in times of drought or when the grass ceases to perform well or loses its green color.

Step 3

Allow the white silky seed heads to mature on the splitbeard bluestem grass undisturbed from August through November, during which period they will readily self-sow. Alternatively, harvest the decorative seed stalks for use in cut flower and dried flower arrangements.

Things You'll Need

  • Bluestem rooted plants
  • Hand trowel
  • Water


  • USDA Plant Database Profile
  • U.S. Forestry Service
  • Florida
Keywords: andropogon ternarius, splitbeard bluestem, perennial ornamental grass

About this Author

A communications professional, D.C. Winston has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals and film/broadcast media. Winston studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.

Photo by: Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS