Source: Matt Lavin
Ever wished for grass that could dance in the wind and paint your garden in vivid hues?
Well, prepare to be amazed because Blue Oat Grass might be the answer you’ve been searching for.
You are about to discover why growing and caring for this captivating grass is necessary for every gardener seeking a touch of whimsy and elegance.
- What Is Blue Oat Grass?
- Growing Blue Oat Grass
- Essential Care and Maintenance for Blue Oat Grass
- Possible Problems With Blue Oat Grass
What Is Blue Oat Grass?
Blue oat grass is a type of ornamental grass that belongs to the Poaceae family.
Its scientific name is Helictotrichon sempervirens, which means “evergreen hair of the sun.”
It originates from Europe and Asia, growing in dry and rocky areas.
Some of the features that make blue oat grass attractive are:
- Its blue-green foliage forms a dense clump of narrow blades.
- Its spiky habit adds vertical interest and contrasts to the garden.
- Its oat-like seed heads emerge in summer and turn golden in fall.
- Its ability to withstand cold, heat, drought, and deer.
Cultivars of Blue Oat Grass
Several cultivars of blue oat grass vary in size, color, and shape.
Some of the most popular ones are:
- ‘Sapphire‘ has a more intense blue hue and grows up to 3 feet (90 cm) tall and wide.
- ‘Saphirsprudel‘ has a more compact habit and grows up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall and wide.
- ‘Blue Ice‘ is silvery-blue and grows up to 4 feet (120 cm) tall and wide.
Blue oat grass is a versatile plant that can be used differently in the garden. The next section will show you how to grow and care for it.
Blue oat grass is also known as blue avena grass or blue wheat grass. It is not related to oats or wheat but to fescue grasses. It is named for its blue-green color and its oat-like seed heads.
Growing Blue Oat Grass
Blue oat grass is not difficult to grow but requires some basic conditions to thrive.
Here are some tips on how to grow blue oat grass in your garden.
Choosing the Right Location
To ensure the successful growth of Blue Oat Grass, selecting the ideal location in your garden is important.
Consider the following factors:
- Sunlight requirements: Blue Oat Grass thrives in full sun, so choose a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Limited sunlight can result in leggy growth and less vibrant foliage.
- Soil preferences and pH levels: This grass prefers well-drained soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. If soil is heavy or clay-like, amend it with organic matter like compost to improve drainage.
- Climate considerations: Blue Oat Grass is adaptable to various climates but prefers temperate regions. It can tolerate mild winter conditions but may struggle in extremely hot or humid environments.
There are a few ways to propagate Blue Oat Grass, depending on your preference and availability:
- Seed sowing: Start by sowing seeds indoors in late winter or early spring. Plant them in well-draining soil and keep the seed trays or pots in a warm location. Transplant the seedlings outdoors once they are well-established.
- Division: Another propagation method is division. In early spring or fall, carefully divide an established clump of Blue Oat Grass using a sharp spade or garden knife. Ensure that each division has sufficient roots and foliage.
- Purchasing established plants: If you’re looking for a quicker option, purchase established Blue Oat Grass plants from a reputable nursery or garden center. This allows you to skip the germination and early growth stages.
Planting and Establishing Blue Oat Grass
Once you have your Blue Oat Grass plants or divisions ready, follow these steps to ensure successful establishment:
- Soil preparation: Prepare the planting area by removing any weeds or debris. Loosen the soil and amend it with compost or well-rotted organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.
- Depth and spacing: Dig holes slightly larger than the root ball of the plant or division. Place the plants in the holes, ensuring the crown is leveled with the soil surface. Space them about 1 to 2 feet (30-60 cm) apart to allow for their natural growth habit.
- Watering techniques: Thoroughly water the grass to settle the soil around the roots after planting. Water regularly but avoid overwatering, as Blue Oat Grass is moderately drought-tolerant once established. Provide deep watering during dry spells.
Essential Care and Maintenance for Blue Oat Grass
To ensure the health and vitality of your Blue Oat Grass, proper care and maintenance are essential.
Pay attention to the following aspects.
While Blue Oat Grass is moderately drought-tolerant, it still requires regular watering, especially during dry or hot seasons.
Water deeply, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
Blue Oat Grass generally doesn’t require heavy fertilization.
Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring or summer to provide nutrients.
Avoid excessive fertilization, which can lead to excessive growth and floppy foliage.
Mulching for Weed Control and Moisture Retention
Apply a layer of organic mulch around the grass base to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and regulate soil temperature.
Use materials like wood chips or straw, ensuring that the mulch doesn’t cover the crown of the grass.
Pruning and Removing Dead Foliage
To maintain the neat appearance of Blue Oat Grass, prune and remove dead or damaged foliage as needed.
Cut back the grass to about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) above the ground in late winter or early spring to encourage fresh growth.
Possible Problems With Blue Oat Grass
One of the most common problems that blue oat grass growers face is crown rot, a fungal disease that causes the base of the plant to rot and die.
Fortunately, a simple way to combat this problem is to plant blue oat grass in a raised bed or a container.
This will ensure the soil drains well and the plant’s crown stays dry and healthy.
Other common problems include the following.
You can control them with insecticidal soap, neem oil, or pyrethrin.
Blue oat grass may be infected by rust, leaf spot, or crown rot, which can cause yellowing, browning, or wilting of the leaves or stems.
You can prevent them by keeping the plants healthy and well-spaced and removing any infected parts.
You can treat them with fungicides if necessary.
Blue oat grass may be damaged by extreme heat or cold, excessive moisture or drought, or salt or wind exposure, which can cause leaf scorch, tip burn, or dieback.
You can protect them by mulching them in winter and summer, watering them when the soil is dry, and relocating them to a more sheltered spot.
Growing Blue Oat Grass offers more than just its enchanting beauty.
One of the most common benefits of this grass is its ability to provide year-round interest with its evergreen foliage.
Whether it’s a splash of vibrant blue in summer or an elegant backdrop in winter, Blue Oat Grass adds a touch of elegance to any garden or landscape.