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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Griffin, Georgia » Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #334878

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

Location: Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit

Title: 'Seasons in the Sun’, a colorful new little Bluestem for landscapes

Author
item ROBACKER, CAROL - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
item Harrison, Melanie

Submitted to: Proceedings American Society of Horticultural Sciences
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2016
Publication Date: 8/8/2016
Citation: Robacker, C., Harrison, M.L. 2016. 'Seasons in the Sun’, a colorful new little Bluestem for landscapes[abstract]. Proceedings American Society of Horticultural Sciences. Paper No. 149.

Interpretive Summary: Little bluestem is a warm-season perennial grass native to much of North America. This drought-tolerant plant is tough and adaptable. It is becoming more popular in landscaping due to its low maintenance and attractive foliage, as well as increasing interest in using native plants. A new cultivar of little bluestem, ‘Seasons in the Sun’, was developed from a project between the University of Georgia and USDA. Selections were made to develop a plant with colorful foliage and compact form. One plant with soft arching lavender foliage and upright form was divided and planted in a replicated field plots in Griffin and Blairsville, Georgia (cold hardiness zones 8a and 6b, respectively). Height after four seasons in the field ranged from 104 to 110 cm at full bloom. Foliage height was 41 to 52 cm and width was 35 to 53 cm. In the spring, foliage is yellow-green at the base, changing to red-purple from mid-way to the tip of each leaf. Throughout the summer, foliage is a mix of green and grayed-purple. In the fall, the leaves are purple or greyed-purple. Foliage was similar in color at both Griffin and Blairsville, indicating that color was expressed even with higher summer temperatures. ‘Seasons in the Sun’ is readily propagated via root division. It has been released as one of three cultivars in the ‘Hit Parade’ series.

Technical Abstract: Schizachyrium scoparium, little bluestem, is a warm-season perennial grass native to much of North America. This drought-tolerant plant is tough and adaptable. It is becoming more popular in landscaping due to its low maintenance and attractive foliage, as well as increasing interest in using native plants. A new cultivar of little bluestem, ‘Seasons in the Sun’, was developed from a project between the University of Georgia and USDA. Little bluestem accessions were evaluated in the field, and seeds from open pollination were collected. Selections were made from among the resulting seedlings, and following another round of pollination and seedling evaluation, a plant with colorful foliage was identified. This plant, coded as B20-10, was propagated via division, and planted in a replicated field plot in Griffin and Blairsville, Georgia (cold hardiness zones 8a and 6b, respectively). Selection B20-10 has soft arching foliage and upright flowering culms. Height after four seasons in the field ranged from 104 to 110 cm at full bloom. Foliage height was 41 to 52 cm and width was 35 to 53 cm. In the spring, foliage is yellow-green at the base, changing to red-purple from mid-way to the distal end of each leaf. Throughout the summer, foliage is a mix of green and grayed-purple. In the fall, the distal 80% of each most leaves are purple or greyed-purple. Foliage was similar in color at both Griffin and Blairsville, indicating that color was expressed even with higher summer temperatures. ‘Seasons in the Sun’ is readily propagated via root division. It has been released as one of three cultivars in the ‘Hit Parade’ series.