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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - May 13, 2012

From: Dallas, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Speed of bluestem grass spreading in Georgia red clay from Dallas GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How fast does bluestem spread in Georgia red clay?

ANSWER:

We are assuming you are referring to bluestem grass. There are two grasses native to Georgia with "bluestem" as part of their common name.

The first, Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) is shown on this USDA Plant Profile map as not being native to Paulding County, but is shown as native to Barton County to the north and Dougas County to the south. If you follow the plant link to our webpage on this plant, you will learn that it is a warm season, perennial grass with blue-green stems that grows 4 to 8 ft. tall. Soil Description: Acid or calcareous sands, loams, and clays, so we know it will grow in clay, but no idea how fast.

From our webpage on this grass:

"Big Bluestem needs more moisture to look its best than does Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), but it is quite drought-tolerant when in deep prairie soils because of its deep roots. If used in a garden, too much water, shade, or fertilizer can cause it to get top-heavy and fall over. It is moderately tolerant of acidity and salinity and can withstand periodic flooding and high water tables."

For more information see this USDA Natural Resources Conservation website on Big Bluestem.

"Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) is shown on this USDA Plant Profile map as not growing natively in Paulding County, but does in counties around it. Again from our website on this grass:  

"Soil Description: Well-drained soil. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Limestone-based. It readily reseeds so little bluestem is not recommended for small gardens. Little bluestem is tolerant of a wide range of soils but will not tolerate wetlands or sub-irrigated sites."

About the best we could find on speed of growing in this plant is that it is a perennial and will get to about 2 ft. by the first Fall. For more information on this grass, see this Floridata article on Little Bluestem.

Both plants can apparently grow in clay, but there is seldom information on the growing speed of grasses, under any conditions or in any soils.

 

From the Image Gallery


Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

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