DROPSEED

FAMILY: Poaceae | GENUS: SPOROBOLUS

TYPE
  • Perennials
  • Ornamental Grasses
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
WATER
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Moderate Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9

Plant Details

Don't let the graceful appearance and fine texture of these clumping grasses fool youthey're as tough as they come. Deep rooted and drought tolerant; excellent for massing in hot, dry areas and effective in meadow gardens, mixed borders, naturalized areas, rock gardens, even by swimming pools. Plumelike flower heads appear in summer or fall; after they fade, tiny seeds drop to the ground, hence the common name.

alkali sacaton, alkali dropseed

sporobolus airoides

  • Native from Arkansas and Missouri northwest to Washington and south to Mexico.
  • Foliage clump grows 3 feet high and wide; leaves are grayish green during growing season, yellow in fall, beige in winter.
  • In summer or fall, showy, erect or arching flower plumes increase plant height to 5 feet.; plumes are pinkish, eventually fading to pale straw color.
  • Takes a wide range of soils; good for alkaline conditions.
  • Noninvasive.

prairie dropseed

sporobolus heterolepis

  • Native to the Midwest, High Plains, and much of the eastern U.S. Emerald-green, hairlike leaves form a billowing mass to 15 inches tall and 112 feet wide.
  • Foliage turns golden to orange in fall, then fades to light bronze in winter.
  • Slender-stemmed panicles of flowers rise to 3 feet tall, soaring above the foliage in late summer.
  • Blossoms are pink to light brown and smell faintly of coriander.
  • The seeds are highly nutritious and were ground into flour by Plains Indians.
  • Plant tolerates almost any soil but likes it on the dry side.
  • It can be started from seed but is rather slow to establish.
  • Unlike many other grasses, this one doesn't self-sow extravagantly, so volunteer seedlings are seldom a problem.

giant sacaton

sporobolus wrightii

  • Native to sandy open areas and hillsides in southwestern Canada and the southwestern U.S. Narrow, arching, blue-green leaves grow quickly to form a clump 34 feet tall and wide.
  • Feathery, golden yellow seed heads nearly double the plant's height in late summer to early fall; good in dried arrangements.
  • Evergreen in all but the coldest climates.
  • Quite drought tolerant but looks best with occasional deep watering.
  • Noninvasive.

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