Great Plants for Northern Gardens: Day 13 — Blue Heaven Bluestem

Kent Peterson of Terrace Horticultural Books with Mary Meyer

Many gardeners in Minnesota know Dr. Mary Meyer, former interim head of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, extension and outreach horticulturist and expert in ornamental grasses. We were excited this past weekend to see Mary receive the 6th Annual Terrace Award from Terrace Horticultural Books, the St. Paul bookstore devoted to all things horticultural. (This store is so great that when Martha Stewart visited Minnesota a couple of years ago, Terrace books is the place she wanted to visit!) The award recognizes outstanding achievement and service to horticulture in Minnesota. Congratulations, Mary!

One of Mary’s many achievements was the introduction in 2007 of Blue Heaven™ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium ‘MinnBlueA’). According to Debbie Lonnee, Northern Gardener’s Plant to Pick columnist, Blue Heaven has “truly year-round seasonal interest,” with bluish foliage in summer, followed by airy flowers in August and September, then warm beige tones in the winter, when it remains upright, providing great winter beauty. In fall, Blue Heaven is a star, moving from purple to violet to red colors, which last for weeks and weeks.

Blue heaven

University of Minnesota photo

Blue Heaven was selected from a seedling population in Benton County, north of the Twin Cities, and is hardy to USDA Zone 3. Like most grasses, it does best in full sun with well-drained to dry soils. Debbie warns growers not to over-fertilize the plant. In the right setting, Blue Heaven adds color and interest.

Gardeners should be able to fine Blue Heaven in good nurseries all around the state.