Best Native Grass for Fall Color in Southern Alberta (hint: it’s Little Bluestem)

We’re all familiar with the obvious asters and goldenrods which provide late season blooms and are ideal to include in your native landscape for fall color (not to mention all the benefits they provide for wildlife and insects). But here I’m going to tell you about the best native grass that provides exceptional fall interest.

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Little Bluestem is my absolute favorite native plant so far, and specifically for fall. We’ll see what I say in future years, ha. But what an all-season stunner it is!

Fall Color and Interest

Little Bluestem turns the most beautiful shades of purple and red in the fall, with fluffy little white seedheads.

Gorgeous when backlit by a setting sun, or the sunrise in the morning, or surrounded with snow, or anytime you see it, really. Can you tell I love this grass?

It’s sturdy, so stays upright even in winter during snow and melt and wind.

Difficult to Photograph

Little Bluestem is so difficult to photograph to really showcase its beauty adequately. And I clearly didn’t spend enough time trying to get it right 😉 I’ll try again next year!

Little Bluestem in the summer in a Southern Alberta native flower garden.

Why did I not get a photo of Little Bluestem in the actual fall? I’m really not sure. I spent enough time admiring it…

The above photo was taken in late September, and since we had a long and late fall, this hadn’t quite turned to its stunning fall color. Wild About Flowers has a better photo on their site; see it here.

How to Use Little Bluestem in Your Landscape

Little Bluestem is quite a tall, bunch forming grass. It will grow to about 3 feet tall, but can sometimes become quite a lot taller as well. It needs full sun and prefers dry soil.

I’m thinking it might be an excellent native substitute for the ubiquitous Karl Foerster feather reed grass. I’ll keep an eye on its growth habits over the next few years and let you know my observations!

The one thing I’m concerned about is if it spreads too fast by seed.

Deer Don’t Eat It

And finally, the deer leave little bluestem alone, which is a big plus in my books since we have herds of them traipsing through our yard daily. (They eat a lot of my precious plants and trees, especially my baby fruit trees, poor things).

In Conclusion

I hope you’ll try Little Bluestem in your native garden next year! And I will be sure to keep posting my observations regarding its growth rate and spread.

Happy Gardening!