A grass worthy of applause – Standing Ovation little bluestem

Standing Ovation little bluestemStanding Ovation is a superior selection of our native little bluestem grass. Little bluestem grass is native to the prairies of North America. It is a warm season grass, greening later in the spring than your blue grass lawn, but tolerating the heat and drought of the summer better. It prefers full sun and soil on the dry side. Little bluestem is better suited for our high and dry environment than other overused ornamental grasses. Standing Ovation was selected for its superior tight, upright habit. It remains uniform in the landscape, giving your garden a much cleaner and formal appearance. Standing Ovation little blue stem is a clump forming grass, so it does not run and become weedy in the garden. During the growing season it has superior bluish green leaves turning to shades of purple at the base.
Summer brings on the tall flowering spikes, followed in the fall with fluffy white seed heads that are a good food source for many local birds. The blue and purple summer color changes to spectacular oranges in the fall. The foliage stands tall through most winters, giving much needed winter interest and texture. The bronze cast of the winter foliage looks stunning against a fresh snow. This grass keeps its good color through the winter until it is cut to about 3” from the ground in the spring, allowing for fresh new blue foliage to emerge. Standing Ovation grows best in full sun and drier soils and pairs nicely with the prairie native Chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata) and selection of the Mexican native Vermilion Bluffs® sage (Salvia darcyi ‘Pscarl’).

Brought to Plant Select® by North Creek Nurseries.

Standing Ovation seasons

Standing Ovation little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’PP25,202)

Ornamental Grass
Size: 2-3′  tall x 15-18ʺ wide
Blooms: Late summer to fall
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to xeric
Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8
Culture: Adaptable

Deer resistant

Pairs well with:
Chocolate flower
Avalanche white sun daisy
Wild Thing sage

Thanks to Shalene Hiller Navant, City of Westminster for this piece

47 responses to “A grass worthy of applause – Standing Ovation little bluestem”

  1. Marlene says:

    I love this plant, but have a lot of shade. Will it grow in part shade? I live in Minnesota.

  2. Barbara Belt says:

    I am thinking about planting the Little Blue Stem. I am worried that the seeds will take hold in the surrounding rock area next to the area I want to plant. I don’t want new plants showing up in the rocks every summer. I haven’t seen any information of the reseeding of ornamental grasses. Plant select needs to inform the gardener of the invasion of new unwanted plants.
    Should I be concerned about this plant?
    Thank you.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Great questions! You should not have a yearly problem with this plant. If you plant masses of them you will definitely get more seeding around that you may have to address every 3-4 years, but if you are planting 1 plant you may not see any seedlings for many years. Concerning introducing weeds and gardening with plants that may like to seed around, Plant Select has protocols that are followed through the trialing process. You should see how many fantastic plants didn’t make it into the program because they were deemed a bit weedy. However, plants can behave differently in different conditions in different gardens and that’s why we experts who have experience that monitor the thresholds of plants that seed around and demonstration gardens around the state that share input on them too. For some gardens, slightly weedy plants are nice and they fill in the empty spaces. For biennials and short lived perennials one has to allow that to continually enjoying the plant year after year. Enjoy this lovely native plant, it will be a low maintenance garden plant for you.

  3. Pam says:

    Thank you for this site. I am heading a multi-phase renovation project from traditional landscape to xeric/xeriscape in our HOA. this website has been a great help to me.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      We hope to do more with HOA’s offering guidance for landscape conversions to xeriscapes and becoming demonstration gardens.

  4. Barbara says:

    Can I plant this grass in partial shade. My area gets maybe 5 hours of sun. If this will not work, can you recommend another grass that will tolerate partial shade?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Yes, five hours of sun should work. remember to stop watering this grass after it is established.

  5. flyflv says:

    Enter the approximate length and width of the area you will be planting and click ‘Calculate’ to determine how many Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ you will need.

  6. Joe says:

    I planted my Little Bluestem in a garden where I have automatic sprinklers that run twice a day every other day for about 6 minutes. is this too much water.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      They don’t need that much water, it will make them floppy. If you have other plants around it that need more water, you might be forced to water that often. Watering this grass once per week is sufficient for a stunning looking plant. Enjoy!

  7. ELISA P REID says:

    I planted Little Blue Stem and within a week it dried out. I watered it once a day to help it establish and used MiracleGro fertilizer to help as well.I bought another one to replace. What should I do differently this time around. It is planted in well drained soil and full sun. Thank you
    Elisa Reid

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Did it really dry out? If it wilted it could be from too much water. Try watering it every other day. Could there be a colony of ants living under it? Sometimes they create air pockets that dry plants out. Very strange. This grass should be able to handle dry conditions with minimal watering. Send an update or photo to email director@plantselect.org

  8. Julie Spoonemore says:

    I just purchased one in a 3 inch pot. When is it best to transplant it into the ground?

  9. Frank kinder says:

    Great plant!

  10. I’m looking on information pertaining to pets and this plant. Is it toxic to dogs and cats? Thank you!

  11. Jenny piwers says:

    I planted Little Blue Stem Standing Ovation this fall.. it was tiny with a few brown and green blades when planted.. I watered it carefully and it has grown about an inch and has purple and orange blades as well.. how long until it is established? It is a beautiful plant and if it survives our Michigan winter I would like to plant more. Thank you

  12. Liz says:

    I just purchased a one gallon of the plant at the local arboretum sale. I’m putting it in full East Texas sun with late afternoon shade. Thank you for the information! It helped me chose the site. It’s a gorgeous plant!

  13. Rhonda Murff says:

    How do you trim this plant? Shear to the ground in spring or 2/3 of the plant or don’t cut at all?
    Thx for the other great info

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Cut it entirely back in the spring to about 2-3 inches tall before it begins to green up. Enjoy!

  14. Marianne says:

    How old/big should this plant be before I divide it? I have a large property but not a large bank account so I rely on propagation (seeds, divisions/cuttings) to fill in the garden 🙂

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      When it gets 8 inches in width at the base, you can divide it in half or thirds. Be sure to moderately water it before you divide it. Divide it in early June, not the fall, for best results. Enjoy!

  15. Lori says:

    Can this grass be kept in a well draining pot long term? If so, how often should it be watered and should it be fertilized? I live in 7a. Thank you!

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      With 20 inches of moisture per year in 7a, this grass should be fine. Don’t fertilize it unless you want it taller in the pot. Then you will have to give it some water too.

  16. Molly Reeves says:

    I’ve got a couple that are beautiful color but are floppy and heavy can’t seem to keep them upright. I read above it may be because they are within the range of my automatic sprinklers for my lawn? So am I better off to try to replant them somewhere else or think I can manage them with stakes maybe from an earlier point in the summer? Maybe I wait too long into summer before I get stakes and then too heavy? Any thoughts appreciated!!

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Stop watering them and they will stand more erect next year. If the irrigation can’t be changed, then you will have to move them to keep them from flopping.

  17. I absolutely lo9ve my Bluestem plants. They are in a container and thriving. The problem I am having is that they are bending over. How do I stake them but make them still look natural?

  18. Diane says:

    large long Do these plants do well in a permanent stone planter that get very cold heavy winter conditions? Will they reseed alot? The spot where the planter is gets lots of sun but not much watering, has to be watered by hand.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Yes, these grasses should perform in your pots in that situation. They most likely will not reseed that much in reduced watering situations.

  19. Mary gibbons says:

    I am thinking of planting these on a steep full sun cliff type hill. Cutting back in the spring may be impossible. Will that greatly affect their look or success?

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      They might look a little unmaintained, but by summer the new grass blades should be large enough to cover last year’s growth. Leaving this grass alone without cutting it back is fine and won’t affect the plant, but you may want to maintain it every 5 years.

  20. Lee Peterson says:

    I’ve been looking for a seed source for Standing Ovation. Can you suggest a source?

  21. […] “Standing Ovation” – a compact cultivar with blue-green foliage that turns orange-red in fall. The seed heads are held upright, creating a bold silhouette. […]

  22. Hope Haberer says:

    I have had my standing ovation little bluestem in my garden for quite awhile. One of the 4 plants is thriving. The other 3 are not getting many new shoots, but are alive. They are in full sun. Any suggestions?

  23. pleae help!! purchased a ovation little bluestem, already a plant. nowhere does it state how deep to plant this new plant?!

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Dig a hole deep enough to where the soil grade of the potted plant is equal to the natural grade of the garden. This is a very tuff plant and as long as you did not plant it really high or bury it really low, it should be just fine.

  24. jeff marx says:

    When does the plant start to green up in the spring? Planted in early fall, now mid March but no signs of “waking up.”

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