Prairie Dropseed

Planting Zone
Planting Zones 3-9
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Bloom Season
Bloom Color
Height At Maturity
Under 3 Feet
Native Grasses
Sun And Shade, Full Shade,
25 Plants
Shipped As
Flower Gardens And Beds, Border Plants,

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Prairie Dropseed Description

Prairie dropseed is a perennial bunchgrass whose mound of leaves is typically from one to two feet tall and around two to three feet across.

Prairie dropseed, formally known as the Sporobolus heterolepis, is a prairie grass species native to the tallgrass and mixed-grass prairies of central North America from Texas to southern Canada. It spreads further east, to the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada, but is much less common beyond the Great Plains, as it restricts itself to only specific habitats. It grows in twenty-seven states and four Canadian provinces. The prairie dropseeds flowering stems, known as culms, grow from one and a half to three feet tall, extending above the leaves. The flower cluster is an airy panicle three to eight inches long.

They terminate in small spikelets containing a single fertile floret that produces three reddish anthers and a short feathery stigma upon blooming. The floret, once pollinated, creates a nearly round seed one-point-five to two millimeters long. The base of each spikelet contains two bracts, known as glumes, four to six millimeters long and the other two to four millimeters long; each bract is long and tapered, with sharp tips. Around the floret are a lemma and palea, each about three-point-five to around five millimeters long; in some cases, the palea can be longer than the lemma.

Prairie Dropseed-Sporobolus Heterolepis is Drought Tolerance and Serves as Roof Carpeting

As a fine-textured grass species with long, narrow leaves that arch outward, the prairie dropseed develops attractive, round tufts ranging in color from a rich, summery green hue to a rusty-golden color in the autumn. The foliage provides year-round interest from late July to mid-September and is hardy enough to resist the flattening impact caused by the snow. The grass blooms with tan-colored flowers that rise thirty to thirty-six inches in height, and it occurs in a wide soil variety, even tolerating dry conditions, though it is pretty scarce in wetlands.

Many cultivate the grass as an ornamental plant in gardens because of its attractive bunchgrass form. Because of its drought tolerance, it often serves as roof carpeting. Those who encounter the seedheads would describe them as having the vague scent of fresh popcorn, cilantro, or sunflower seeds. The prairie dropseed appears as roadside revegetation and prairie restoration projects. While it is to establish by direct seeding, transplanting greenhouse-grown seedlings is a more effective establishing method.

Prairie Dropseed-Sporobolus Heterolepis is For Sale at TN Wholesale Nursery with Low Prices and Fast Shipping

Prairie grass native to Canada and the United States grows in hill prairies and is dry, and the rocky soils are its natural area. When the seeds mature, they fall from their vessels, giving rise to the plant's common name, "dropseed." 

In Illinois, there are six species of Sporobolus, but this is the one that is most readily available at greenhouses and through regular mail. Its attractive shape, appearance, fragrance, longevity, drought tolerance, low maintenance, and cold hardiness make it popular with gardeners and landscape designers. It has no disease or insect damage.

It is a small plant with a tight vase shape. It is shorter and taller than the species, a one-foot-tall and one-foot-wide plant that can reach two feet in height when in bloom. The autumn foliage is a reddish red. In full sun, reddish sprays of flower stalks reach 4 feet tall. Prairie dropseed is a long-lived plant with roots penetrating deep into the ground, breaking up soil quality.

Prairie dropseed grows well in typical, dry-to-medium, well-drained soils in full sun. On the other hand, plants tolerate many soils, including heavy clay. Plants are drought tolerant and long-lived despite their slow growth and establishment. They can be grown from seed, but they rarely seed themselves in the garden. 

Sporobolus heterolepis is a warm-season prairie grass, so the leaves will not appear until the weather warms up in late May. For winter interest, leave the dried leaves and stems in place.

Before new growth appears, cut the plants down to the ground. After new growth, mature plants can be dug up, divided in half, and replanted.

This plant forms a soft, fine-textured mound. The 20-inch-long arching, narrow leaves create a 2-foot-wide and 2-foot-tall fountain effect. A flurry of thin stems with pinkish-brown flowering panicles floats above the feathery grass in midsummer. The fragrance of the flowers is like buttery popcorn, roasted nuts, melted crayons, and cilantro. Depending on the sense of smell, the scent will either delight or offend all.

In autumn, the foliage takes on coppery tones and persists into winter, along with the seed heads. In early spring and new growth in late May, prairie dropseed is attractive for many months. It survives in mixed borders, meadows, restored prairies, and naturalistic plantings. It's also an excellent addition to rain gardens. If you have soil degradation, this grass can help to stabilize the ground. This species is the ideal contrasting plant for areas with upright forms and bold leafy. The fine, flowering appearance joins the gaps between herbaceous perennials.

These large masses provide green color to your gardens and are ideal as a distinctive border or tall ground cover. It can be arranged to contrast with other plants of multiple colors when used as a decor specimen plant. Once established in the yard, this plant will add a touch of color to any space.

Sun exposure: Partial sun

Water requirement: Moderate moisture

Zone: 3 to 9

Best time to Harvest: Spring

Ship as: Bareroot

Height at maturity: 2 to 3 ft tall


Reviews (1)

  • 5
    Prairie Dropseed

    Posted by Alex West on Oct 02, 2022

    Amazing choice, well-packed plants, and reasonable prices.

Shipping Information

We dig fresh our plants and ship immediately. We ship US Mail, Priority shipping. You will receive a tracking number once your plants ship. All plants will be fine in their packages for up to 3 days after receiving.

How We Protect Your Plants For Transit

We sell only bare root plants. We dip the roots in tera-sorb silicone gel to retain ample moisture for transit and surround with plastic. This is superior protection for plants in transit for up to 12 days.

Upon Receipt Of Your Plants

Open your plants and inspect the same day received. We offer 3 days to report any problems with your order. Bare root plants need to be planted within 2-3 days of receiving unless weather-related problems prohibit planting. Store in a cool place and keep roots moist and covered with plastic until they can be planted. Water for the first week daily after planting.

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