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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Griffin, Georgia » Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #328725

Research Project: Conservation, Characterization, and Evaluation of Plant Genetic Resources and Associated Information

Location: Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit

Title: Little Bluestem 'Hit Parade' series adds pop of color to native landscapes

Author
item Harrison, Melanie
item ROBACKER, CAROL - University Of Georgia

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/5/2016
Publication Date: 11/8/2016
Citation: Harrison, M.L., Robacker, C. 2016. Little Bluestem 'Hit Parade' series adds pop of color to native landscapes. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. Poster #1522.

Interpretive Summary: Little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, is a warm-season perennial grass native to North America with a range extending from Canada to Mexico. It is a predominant species of the tallgrass prairie and can be found growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 9. There is a large amount of variation within this species which can be readily exploited to develop cultivars with unique ornamental characteristics. Little bluestem typically grows to a height of one to three feet and produces green to bluish green foliage. It is beneficial to wildlife providing seed for feeding and nesting habitat in its tufted basal foliage. Initial interest in the species focused on its forage quality, but increased interest in using perennial grasses in the landscape has led to the development of little bluestem as a valuable ornamental grass. Through recurrent selection, three little bluestem cultivars that have unique foliage color and growth habit were developed by a joint project between the USDA and the University of Georgia. These three cultivars are licensed by EuroAmerican and are being marketed as ‘Cinnamon Girl’, ‘Seasons in the Sun’, and ‘Good Vibrations’ as the series ‘Hit Parade’. The cultivar ‘Cinnamon Girl’ has an upright rounded form featuring colorful red, purple, and green cascading foliage throughout the growing season. ‘Seasons in the Sun’ has purple cascading foliage mixed with silvery blue that gives the plant an overall iridescent lavender glow. ‘Good Vibrations’ has blue-green foliage tipped with burgundy creating a striking color display. To best showcase these highly ornamental little bluestems, mass groupings work particularly well in the landscape making them ideal for a variety of settings including community entryways and common areas, parks, commercial landscapes, golf courses, and home gardens.

Technical Abstract: Little bluestem is a warm-season perennial grass native to North America with a range extending from Canada to Mexico. It is a predominant species of the tallgrass prairie and can be found growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 9. Little bluestem typically grows to a height of one to three feet and produces green to bluish green foliage. It is beneficial to wildlife providing seed for feeding and nesting habitat in its tufted basal foliage. Increased interest in using perennial grasses in the landscape has led to the development of little bluestem as a valuable ornamental grass. Three little bluestem cultivars that have unique leaf color and growth habit were developed by a joint project between the USDA and the University of Georgia. These three cultivars are licensed by EuroAmerican and are being marketed as ‘Cinnamon Girl’, ‘Seasons in the Sun’, and ‘Good Vibrations’ as the series ‘Hit Parade’. The cultivar ‘Cinnamon Girl’ has an upright rounded form featuring colorful red, purple, and green cascading foliage throughout the growing season. ‘Seasons in the Sun’ has purple cascading foliage mixed with silvery blue that gives the plant an overall iridescent lavender glow. ‘Good Vibrations’ has blue-green foliage tipped with burgundy creating a striking color display. To best showcase these highly ornamental little bluestems, mass groupings work particularly well in the landscape making them ideal for a variety of settings including community entryways and common areas, parks, commercial landscapes, golf courses, and home gardens.