This somewhat slow growing, yet long-lived North American prairie grass is the queen of refinement, affording grace, fortitude and versatility. A popular attraction for birds and once ground into flour by Native Americans, open lace-like panicles give way to countless seed heads that waft a unique cilantro and spiced popcorn aroma. Prairie Dropseed requires minimal care and once mature, braves drought plus an array of soil types, though it’s happiest in moist fertile sites.
Spotted in a Wisconsin field by prairie enthusiast Neil Diboll, a trim, tightset green mound launches as many as 100 strong, lanky cardinal-colored culms, which resist the urge to droop. Uniquely displayed at a fairly uniform height, the gauzy reddish flower panicles and innumerable seed heads coupled with a more compact habit set ‘Morning Mist’ apart from other Sporobolus species. This new upright, yet somewhat arching cultivar boasts sturdy good looks, transmutes glowing golden-orange tones in fall and lends a fine-hewn rubescent flair to informal garden settings. (pp#14,344)
Size: 2' 0" – 3' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.
Hardy to zone 3.
More compact, slightly stiffer and definitely smaller than the species, this upright fine textured dwarf cultivar was selected by astute nurseryman Roy Diblik. ‘Tara’ is a tough warm season grass, which forges a tasteful vase-shaped green foundation beneath the exquisite wispy gathering of numerous minute pinkish purple inflorescences on slender stems. Mature, round seed heads drop to the ground, hence the common name, while narrow foliage blazes red and orange for autumn. Enticing birds and gardeners, especially those who have limited space, heat-tolerant Dwarf Prairie Dropseed can assort with Echinacea, Monarda or Nepeta in borders and meadows or on slopes.
Size: 2' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.
Hardy to zone 4.
Considered the most urbane of the American prairie grasses, ‘Wisconsin Strain’ parades early reliable blooms plus a debonair fountain-style presence. Sublime when illuminated by the afternoon sun, a grand misty floral froth hovers well above an upright arching 1 to 2 ft. tall, finely cut emerald-green hummock. Enticements prevail as tiny ethereal-like pink and brown inflorescences mature into copious tawny-colored seed heads, while soft looking leaves turn opulent burgundy, gold or burnt tangerine hues in autumn, later showcasing light copper tones for winter.
Size: 3' 0" high x 3' 0" wide.
Originally bred by New Mexico’s Los Lunas Plant Materials Center to be a utilitarian non-woody windbreak, this enormous grass pleasantly surprised everyone with its majestic bearing plus spectacular blonde and bronze-colored fluffy flower spikes.
Strap-like medium green foliage boldly forges a sturdy upstanding foundation, touted as the largest of all native American grasses. Possessing a versatile, non-invasive practicality unlike the Victorian era’s Pampas Grass, ‘Windbreaker’ makes a top-notch choice for a living fence, hedgerow or an awe-inspiring ornamental specimen in a mixed border.
Size: 7' 0" – 10' 0" high x 6' 0" wide.
Hardy to zone 5.