Sunday, July 11, 2010

Scrub Blue-eyed Grass - Sisyrinchium xerophyllum

Although common blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is widely grown and propagated throughout Florida, its close relative - scrub blue-eyed grass (S. xerophyllum) is not and it is poorly known among home gardeners.  As its common and Latin names suggest, scrub blue-eyed grass is native to well-drained sandy uplands.  It requires these conditions and plenty of sunlight or it will not persist in the landscape.  Scrub blue-eyed grass is found throughout most of Florida, but it is nearly endemic; being found only sporadically outside of Florida in southern Georgia.
Scrub blue-eyed grass is a much more robust plant vegetatively than its common cousin.  Its leaves are nearly identical in shape, but they stand about 12 inches tall.  These are evergreen and the plants are perennial.
Flowering can occur sparingly in the spring, but is most common during the late summer.  The multiple flower stalks may stand nearly 2 feet tall.  The flowers are similar to its common cousin, but they tend to be a bit paler blue in color.  I have not seen other color forms in the wild.
Despite its attractiveness and ability to prosper in droughty soils, I am not aware of any commercial Florida nursery currently propagating scrub blue-eyed grass.  This is very regrettable and hopefully will change in the future.  We have grown this wonderful species for several years now in our nursery and hope to eventually divide our plants and make it available to interested gardeners.
Use scrub blue-eyed grass in well-drained sandy and sunny locations.  Plant it near the front half of the bed and use 5 or more plants together, spaced at least 8 inches part.  Mix it with other small to medium-small wildflowers of similar habitat needs, such as grass-leaved goldenaster, pink beardtongue, and wild petunia, but do not crowd individual plants.  Like most scrub species, their long-term health requires a bit of space between neighbors.
Hawthorn Hill does not currently have plants for sale, but we should in the near future. If you might be interested, let us know and we'll save you a few.

1 comment:

  1. Might be worth a try. It's the only species in this genus in Florida that doesn't require hydric conditions.


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