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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.