Extension Logo
Extension Logo
University of Minnesota Extension

Five native grasses for great fall color

This has been a wonderful year for fall color in trees, shrubs and grasses. Here’s a look at five grasses that are good selections for putting on a show in your garden in the fall.

Little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium

The red color of the prairie is often due to little bluestem, but new forms are often dark purple as well. In addition to 'Blue HeavenTM', 'Blue Paradise' and 'Little Luke' are cultivars that are colorful in the fall.

Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum

‘Cape Breeze’ is a new 3-foot cultivar that does spread out into a large mass, but is a colorful fall addition to your garden. ‘Shenandoah’ is 4 feet tall, a consistent dark red color in late summer and fall, and ‘Ruby Ribbons’ is slightly shorter.

River Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium

Native to the Ozark Mountain area in Southeastern U. S., this shade and moisture-loving grass has conspicuous flattened seedheads that make a great cut flower and, while it may be short-lived, seedlings often appear nearby.

Prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis

The golden yellow fall color of prairie dropseed makes it a standout in a prairie. The species is about 4 feet tall, while ‘Tara’ is closer to 3 feet. Often the flowering stems are red in color.

Big bluestem, Andropogon gerardii

A large and often floppy grass and mainstay of the tallgrass prairie, new forms of big bluestem that are upright are now available. ‘Blackhawks’ is 6 feet tall and a dark purple or red from mid-summer through fall. ‘New Wave’ is shorter, greenish-yellow and hard to find in garden centers. ‘Rain Dance’ and Red October’ are other red-purple forms that do not lodge or fall over.

Mary H. Meyer, Extension horticulturist

Related topics: Yard and Garden News Fall
Page survey

© 2024 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.