Sunday, September 5, 2021

Andropogon gerardii as an ornamental

Andropogon gerardii "Blackhawk"

 I've been interested in using various ornamental grasses in my yard, and last year I finally decided to test some of the Andropogon gerardii cultivars in the market.

I was not convinced this species had what I wanted in an ornamental grass, but I wanted to at least make sure I wasn't missing something.

Andropogon gerardii "Blackhawk"

I bought an A. gerardii "Blackhawk" and an A. geradii "Raindance". The former surprised me this Spring by prematurely coming out early, but then seemed to have problems and its above ground structures wilted. It was reduced for awhile to a few small stems that sprouted from the periphery, and I fully expected the plant to die completely or to only come back next Spring.

However, several months later the ornamental grass had come fully back, and had even pushed out tall inflorescence that towered above the shorter leaves.

Andropogon gerardii "Blackhawk"

I took some time to take some macro shots of the flowerheads of the 2 cultivars, but I must admit I am not a big enthusiast of the species as an ornamental. The flowerheads came up at different heights, and I just could not shake the feeling that the "Raindance" especially looked like it was simply a grassy weed that had not been pulled out.

However, the cultivar "Blackhawk" has at least one redeeming feature, and that is its dark color. The leaves right now are a very darkish red, and they are supposed to turn almost black in late September. This unusual color of the cultivar perhaps makes up for the somewhat disappointing flowerheads.

Overall, I think the Andropogon cultivars do not match the beauty of other native ornamentals, such a Panicum virgatum or Schyzachyrium scoparium.

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