Friday, April 29, 2016

Flower Friday: Ol' blue eyes is back.

Photo by Mary Keim.
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)           

Click on terms for botanical definitions.

Blue-eyed grass is an evergreen, clump-forming perennial wildflower. Its dainty star-shaped flowers and are born atop flat, grasslike stems. Tepals may be blue, purple or lavender and darken as they near the center of the flower, which is bright yellow. They have obvious venation, are tipped with sharp points, and arch back toward the stem as the flower opens. Leaves are long, linear and basal. Seeds develop in capsules that wrinkle and turn dark brown as they mature. The grasslike appearance of both stems and leaves give this plant its common name. However, it is in no way related to the grass family.

Blue-eyed grass typically blooms in spring. It occurs naturally in moist hammocks, bogs, and along riverbanks and moist roadsides.

There are several species of Sisyrinchium native to Florida, but only S. angustifoloium is available for the home landscape.

 Blue-eyed grass along Suncoast Parkway in Hernando County.
Photo by Jeff Norcini.
Family: Iridaceae (Iris family)

Native range: Throughout Florida

Hardiness: 8–11

Soil: Moist to moderately dry, sandy to loamy soils

Exposure: Full sun

Growth habit: 6-12” tall

Propagation: Seed, division

Garden tips: Blue-eyed grass’ low profile makes it an excellent groundcover choice. It is fairly adaptable to conditions of drought and partial shade, but planting in full sun and moist soil will result in denser foliage and more flowers. It is a prolific self-seeder provided there are multiple plants; solitary plants typically don’t produce viable seed. It will also spread by underground rhizomes. Blue-eyed grass does not transplant well in full summer heat, so plants should be installed in fall or winter to insure that they are well established before summer.

Blue-eyed grass plants are often available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.plantrealflorida.org to find a nursery in your area.  

To see where blue-eyed grass occurs naturally, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.

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