En EspaÑol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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


How fast does bluestem spread in Georgia red clay?


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

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Need a pretty ground cover to control erosion in Rigdeway, SC.
June 09, 2012 - What is a fast, pretty ground cover blanket to control erosion on steep hill. gets full sun.
view the full question and answer

Short or mowable plant for walkway
June 03, 2008 - I'd like a short and/or mowable plant to use as a walkway in and around a vegetable garden in upstate NY. I was planning on clover, but I want to use a native plant if possible. The native clovers ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover to withstand dog traffic in Michigan
November 02, 2010 - I need a soft ground cover that will grow in sand, and be able to take four big dogs that love to run in the yard. Grass just doesn't make it. Someone suggested that groundcover might work. Thanks...
view the full question and answer

Low-maintenance grass for retention pond
December 21, 2012 - I would like to know what would be a low-growing grass to put down for a water retention pond. We have clay and rocky soil. The incline of the sides of the retention pond are about 20 feet with gra...
view the full question and answer

When do Habiturf® grasses make seeds?
June 16, 2015 - I planted Habiturf seeds last year near Dripping Springs. It looks like the Buffalo grass has had seeds on it for a week or 2. How long does it need to remain on the live Buffalo Grass before it can b...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center