Broomsedge Bluestem (Virginicus)

The Broomsedge Bluestem (Virginicus) is generally described as a perennial graminoid. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Broomsedge Bluestem (Virginicus) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a slow growth rate. At maturity, the typical Broomsedge Bluestem (Virginicus) will reach up to 3 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Broomsedge Bluestem (Virginicus) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -18°F. has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Livestock: Broomsedge bluestem is grazed readily by cattle in the spring and early summer shortly after growth starts. The nutrition value is low except in early stages of growth. It is unpalatable when mature.

Ornamental Landscaping: Broomsedge bluestem is used as an ornament in landscapes. The infloresence is orange in the fall and remains throughout the winter. It provides color to the landscape.

Wildlife: Broomsedge bluestem benefits wildlife. Several species of birds and mammals eat the seeds in the winter when the seeds of other plants are not available. Several animals use the plants for cover and nesting sites (especially quail).

Erosion Control: Broomsedge bluestem is found on low fertile soils and prevents erosion when other plants can not be found.

Conservation Practices: Broomsedge bluestem, because of its growth habit, potentially has application when established with certain conservation practices; however, conservation practice standards vary by state. For localized information, consult your local NRCS Field Office.

General Characteristics

General: Grass Family (Poaceae). It is a native, warm-season, herbaceous, perennial bunch grass that begins its growth when the average daytime temperature is between 60° to 65° F. The slender, erect culms are up to 4 feet tall. The flattened sheaths are overlapping and with a few scattered hairs. The upper part of the plant is rounded and the lower part is slightly flattened and keeled. The blade is [! to ¼ inch wide, 10 to 16 inches long and rough to the touch above. The ligule is small and membranous. The inflorescence has a panicle of two to four racemes about 1 inch long. The bases of the panicle branches are enclosed in an inflated, tawny spathe as long or longer than the spikelet. The upper lemma of the sessile spikelet has a straight awn that is ½ inch long. The pedicillate spikelet is absent. The seeds mature in 6 weeks to 2 months.

Required Growing Conditions

Broomsedge bluestem is found on the edges of forests and disturbed areas throughout the eastern United States. For current distribution, consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Cultivation and Care

Adaptation: Broomsedge bluestem is found in all of Louisiana’s Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA) except for the Gulf Coast Marsh (151). The USDA Hardiness Zones for broomsedge bluestem is 5 to 10. It grows on a wide variety of soils, especially in old fields and other disturbed sites. It is frequently found with Andropogon glomeratus but in higher, better-drained sites. However, broomsedge bluestem might have some allelopathic properties and may cause some other plants to not grow.

Broomsedge bluestem is propagated from seeds or by plant division. However, of the two propagation methods, it is best to plant broomsedge bluestem by seeds. The seeds are produced 6 to 8 weeks from when the culms were produced.

The seeds should be planted in late winter as a dormant seeding or when daily temperatures average in the low 60’s. The seed can be broadcast and culti-packed if the right field conditions exist. The seeding rate should be 10 to 12 pure live seed pounds/acre. The seeds should be planted to a depth of ¼ to ¾ inch. If the right field conditions do not exist or intensive seedbed preparation is undesirable, then disk the site and leave the surface as rough as possible. Do not attempt to create a smooth uniform appearance for the seedbed. Broadcast the seed and leave it undisturbed. When seeding under minimal seedbed preparation, increase the seeding rate by 50%.

It is not recommended to mix broomsedge bluestem seeds with cool season grass seeds. In parts of the United States where cool season grasses dominate, the warm season grasses can be taken over because they develop slower than the cool season grasses. It is also recommended that seed should not be moved more than 300 miles north, 100 miles east or west, or 200 miles south of its point of origin.

General Upkeep and Control

Broomsedge bluestem does not require fertilizers as the plants can grow in low fertility areas. Overgrazing and frequent haying of broomsedge bluestem results in an increase of this plant. However if broomsedge bluestem becomes weedy, then burning, plowing, or mowing is recommended. Check with the local extension service for recommended herbicides. Broomsedge bluestem has no known pests or problems.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Slow
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Bunch
Drought Tolerance High
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 3
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Low
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Summer
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -18
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.9–7 pH
Precipitation Range 30–30 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Minimum Frost-Free Days 135 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA