Indian Grass

Aka Sorghastrum Nutans, it is native from American prairies, so I assume it is called indian referring to American indians and not to Indian indians, which is a shame because I use to think this grass eaten by some indian holy cow, shining at the sun, resistant to drought, patient like a Buddha. I’m testing this plant for the first year and I already love it.

Sorghastrum nutans 'Indian Steel' in the gravel garden

Sorghastrum nutans 'Indian Steel' in the gravel garden

It is a pretty tall warm season grass of the Poaceae family, which is a kind of quality mark to me as poaceaes are very tough and easy to grow plants. Leaves are glaucous with a mettalic blue tinge in it. Rough to touch but glistening to the sun it has a very curious pattern too. It has been flowering for a week now, in my new gravel garden (the one that has no gravel yet but I have to distinguish it from the future rose garden, the one with yet no roses and other part of the garden like that…) and I think it is going to last for a little while.

Flowers macro. They look like yellow Tibetan prayer flags.

Flowers macro. They look like yellow Tibetan prayer flags.

Indian grass is supposed to set beautiful orange colors in fall. I can’t wait to see it! I am pretty curious about the way the flowerheads will dry and stand in winter. I’ll let you know.

A plant I am rather unhappy with is panicum virgatum ‘Warrior’ instead. I mean, I love it but most probably I planted it in the wrong place. It will grow much bigger next year and the ‘curtain’ I’ve planned behind an echinacea block risk to become a real menace. I realized it seeing how the other p.v. ‘Warrior’ fell open under some recent rain.

Panicum virgatum 'Warrior' planted last spring

Panicum virgatum 'Warrior' planted last spring

Now it seems the perfect height but it will grow larger and taller next year. So I now have 5 big plants I shall move somewhere. The grass itself is beautiful though, so I think I will move it to the rose garden, or under the willows as it seems to be rather drought tolerant. I must decide what to plant instead of this panicum. I could chose a similar but more compact one like ‘Shenandoah’ rather than going with classical calamagrostis x acutiflora. The echinaceas block I’ve planted is performing pretty well and plants have established very quickly. They are ‘Baby pink swan’ and ‘Prairie Splendour’, this latter has like some huge flowers they should have called it ‘Chernobyl Splendour’ but it probably doesn’t sound that politically correct…

Echinaceas along with kalimeris incisa and alcalthea 'Parkallee'

Echinaceas along with kalimeris incisa and alcalthea 'Parkallee'

Some of you may have noticed I changed the blog theme. I’m still bothered but I’d like to post bigger pictures so I think I might stick with this new style.

Tomorrow is a big day here in Cà Rossa. We have 20ish people coming for lunch, they’re from an italian gardening forum, some of us organize a kind of ‘open garden day’ at some point of the year and people comes with wine or food or cakes and we have lunch together. I’ve been planning this thing for a while now and I hope everything will be ok. Most of the garden is still under construction, as well as the house but I don’t care that much, they’re going to be surprised anyway, I think, and they will be even more surprised by next year!! Wish me good luck!


14 thoughts on “Indian Grass

  1. First, I like the new theme layout! Very readable and clean and the large photos are great. The little prayer flag blooms remind me of a native thalictrum here. And I agree that ‘Chernobyl Splendour’ would at least be hard to sell as a variety.

    How do you keep all those grasses from spreading everywhere? The blooms are so pretty but they look ready to breeze away and grow!

    Wish I could come to the garden party forum. Have some cake and wine for me!

    • We had plenty of food and cakes and wine. I’m bursting! We agreed that was more of a Gourmet meeting, rather than a garden forum party! I will post pics as soon as they send some to me, I didn’t take any… what a wretch blogger I am but I’ve been very busy in the kitchen and later I chose to hang with the people rather than taking pics.
      How do I keep the grasses to spread? I actually encourage them. I need more. I think having perennial and grasses spreading around is better than having weeds. You can chose what to keep and discard, rather than weed everything out.

  2. I love all your grasses but I do LOVE grasses, full stop. Panicum Warrior does have quite an open habit even withour rain, their flower spikelets remind me of Sparklers. I thnk panicums should be moved in spring (that’s when I moved mine this year) I divided them at he same time. Good luck with your party. I help organise a similar garden group here. We’re called gli amici di San Fiacre who is the patron saint of gardeners. We have our party on the last Sunday of August. We have a blog too, but we’re not so good at writing everything up quickly. You can find it at
    Enjoy your guests. Christina

    • Yesterday one of the guests brought me a big plant of panicum ‘Northwind’. I was very happy because that was at the top of my wish list. I’ve already planted it this morning. I do love all grasses, like you, too. I don’t know what a Sparkler is but I think I got the idea. Thanks for the advice, I might move panicums next spring as you suggested… They shall call me Hurry Potter…

  3. It is very beautiful, thank you for showcasing it, I have not heard about it before. I love the first picture of it, very dreamy. I like your blog layout, it is very clean.

    • I think many american native grasses are more popular in Europe than America itself lately, with this ‘dutch wave’ we’re living every grass has been catalogued and sold. At the top of all, american natives have a kind of exotic allure when planted here, so they’re kept more in consideration. Thanks for passing by Masha.

  4. Hi Alberto – Like you, I’m not sure about the theme. It’s clean, but I don’t love the typeface. But WordPress has so many to choose from – I don’t dare change mine, because I would get lost. If I had a grass garden I’d have one of those Indian ones – certainly.

    • One of those indian one. That made me laugh.
      With typeface you mean the font? I think this is Georgia. It is one of those boring one. I normally use Helvetica when possible, which is cleaner. I’ll check out if I can change the font then. Thanks for being honest.

  5. Your Sorgastrum flowers are lovely, similar to Stipa gigantea which is my all time favourite grass – do you have it – it should do well for you, coming from Spain, the Spanish oat. Hope your open day went well – look forward to reading about it !
    Yes I like your larger photos and your typeface, very clean and easy to read, especially for us oldies !!

    • Stipa gigantea is on my top faves too I have only one plant, which is actually performing at a leaves level but this year it gave me only one (beautiful but yet one) flower. I have it on very good soil, rich in gravel, where stipa tenuissima is doing very well for instance. Maybe it needs more time to settle (it’s been there for 1 year and a half), I don’t know…
      Thanks for your comment.

  6. I’m so jealous of your Indian Grass! I used to have some in my garen in Nebraska (when I was a kid) from seed I gathered from wild plants in a field nearby. Loved it so much…great structure (reminiscent of Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’), but with those amazing glaucous leaves. It’s not easy to find anyone here selling it…I’m hoping in the next few years people will start to catch on (as they have with the amazing Schizachyrium in the past few years). Can’t believe I just found your blog so recently…it’s amazing to find a kindred gardening spirit across the pond 🙂

    • Across the pond? 🙂
      Sometimes it’s very difficult to find natives. Here the plant is kind of ‘exotic’ so I found it. Not very easily though. Ok I’ll add these seeds to the Magic ones if you like. Ah! Some Magic kids have flourished today. Very similar but much more red.

  7. Ciao Alberto , è davvero un piacere leggerti !
    stai facendo un grandissimo lavoro che mi piacerebbe vedere da vicino , appena il piccolo
    mi permettera’ di muovermi con maggiore liberta’ mettero’ in programma una visita dalle tue parti … intanto ti seguo facendo il tifo per te!
    Greg .

    • Ah, Greg! Tutto bene col figlioletto? Sei sparito, ma con i tuoi buoni motivi suppongo! Tu e famiglia o amici siete i benvenuti se capitate da queste parti!
      Grazie per il supporto 🙂

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