Sorghastrum nutans, Indian Grass

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This native of much of North America was once one of the dominant grass species of the tallgrass prairie. It is a good choice for erosion control on slopes and combines well with robust wildflowers such as butterfly-weed, purple coneflower, orange coneflower, and other native grasses.

Print Version: Sorghastrum nutans, Indian Grass

Sorghastrum nutans, Indian Grass Grass / Sedge Height: 3–5 feet Spread: 2–3 feet Bloom Color: Light brown Characteristics Clumping perennial grass with upright form Blue-green leaves 1⁄2” wide and 2’ long Feathery golden flower panicles with metallic sheen rise above foliage to 5–6’ in September Foliage turns yellow-orange in fall Panicles darken to bronze and persist in winter Attributes Tolerates drought, erosion, dry and rocky soil, air pollution, and Black Walnut No serious pests or diseases; deer-resistant Tends to flop in moist, rich soil or excess shadeWinter interestProvides pollen for bees and butterflies, seeds for songbirds, and nesting for small mammals and native bees; larval host to Pepper-and-Salt Skipper Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Well-drained Light Requirements: Sun Water Requirements: Dry, Moist Cut back to ground in early spring before new growth appears Use as a vertical accent in borders, mass in meadows, or plant to control erosion on slopes Hardiness: USDA Zones 2–9 Excellent Replacement for Cortaderia selloana - Pampas Grass Miscanthus sinensis - Chinese Silver Grass Pennisetum setaceum - Fountain Grass
Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets