Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Blue Stem) "Blaze"
Schizachyrium scoparium, commonly known as "Little Blue Stem" and a name I particularly like to say, is a warm-season clumping grass from the prairies of North America. It's not only known for its blueness, which is reason enough to want to use it in the landscape, but it's also known for the way it changes colors throughout the seasons: from pale gray-green, to blue, deep purple, red, and orange, and in winter, it's a coppery brown that is equally attractive, particularly against a backdrop of snow. And that's not all: the wispy flower heads that appear in early fall have the ability to catch the luminosity of the sky and create a lovely show of their own. Little Blue Stem remains upright during the growing season, tolerant of drought and poor soil, and practically maintenance free (best to cut it back to four inches in spring). It also provides nourishment and shelter for wildlife, including birds and butterflies. It seems to be perfect in every way. "Blaze" is a seed cultivar that was originally developed for forage, but it turns out that it had the brightest fall colors, so it was grabbed by the nursery industry to offer to you and me. "Blaze" Little Blue Stem grows to two feet (three feet with blooms) in full sun in Zones 3-8. (Photo by Chhe, via Wikimedia Commons, and in the public domain. This is probably not "Blaze," but when I can take my own photo, this will be replaced.)