How to Plant Little Bluestem


Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is an ornamental grass that is grown in bunches in many gardens and yards. It also grows naturally in meadows and prairies, and is sometimes planted for animals to graze. Bluestem can be invasive, so choose a location where some spreading will not be an issue. Little bluestem is native to most areas of the United States and tolerates most soil conditions.

Planting Container Plants

Step 1

Plant little bluestem plants in the spring or fall when the plant is just beginning the growing season or just beginning its dormant stage.

Step 2

Prepare the planting site in full or partial sun. Even though little bluestem tolerates most soil conditions, it does prefer well draining soil so till in a couple inches of sand or compost to the top 12 inches of your soil.

Step 3

Dig a hole that is twice as wide and just as deep as the little bluestem's current container. Plant multiple bunches of little bluestem 18 to 24 inches apart.

Step 4

Back fill the soil, pack it until firm and water well.

Planting Seeds

Step 1

Plant little bluestem seeds in the spring, after the last frost and the soil has warmed up a bit.

Step 2

Check the soil's pH level. Use a testing strip available at most local nurseries. The pH should be between 5.5 and 6.0. Add some lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it. How much depends on your results, so follow package dosing instructions carefully.

Step 3

Till the soil with a tiller and spread the little bluestem seeds evenly with your hands or with a seed spreader. You will need about 150 seeds per square foot.

Step 4

Use your feet or a roller to pack the seeds into the soil. You can also spread some soil on top of the seeds before packing them down.

Step 5

Water well. You can also fertilize with a low level fertilizer (e.g., 5-5-5). Since each type of fertilizer is different and has different potencies and release rates, follow the application directions carefully.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden rake or tiller
  • Sand
  • Seed spreader
  • Roller
  • Fertilizer


  • University of Texas at Austin

Who Can Help

  • USDA Plant Database
  • Plant of the Month: Little Bluestem
Keywords: plant bluestem, growing little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium

About this Author

Melissa Lewis graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has written over 20 episodes for the radio drama entitled "A Work in Progress." She also writes for several online outlets, including Gardenguides, Travels and Examiner, and is currently finalizing a movie script to be filmed in 2010.