How To Care For Blue-Eyed Grass To Ensure Continuous, Colorful Blooms

How To Care For Blue-Eyed Grass To Ensure Continuous, Colorful Blooms

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium) is a plant that is often mistaken for grass due to its green fronds. However, it is actually a member of the iris family. The plant produces star-shaped, six-petaled blooms that are mostly blue but can also be white or lavender. These beautiful flowers attract butterflies, bees, and songbirds to your yard.

They close at night to protect their nectar. Deadheading, which is removing the bloomed-out flowers, can encourage the plant to develop new buds and rebloom. Dividing the slender-leaved perennial every few years after the flowering season ends is also a good practice to promote its growth.

Deadheading and dividing blue-eyed grass

Blue-eyed grass in pot

Cheryl Ann Meola/Shutterstock

Despite their small flowers, blue-eyed grass plants pack an ornamental punch since they bloom profusely. But to keep their look unblemished and tidy, removing the dead flowers after the blooming season ends (depending on the variety) is necessary. This also helps redirect the plant’s resources to setting more buds. Moreover, because the perennial is given to self-seeding, removing the spent blooms can prevent it from becoming invasive.

As blue-eyed grass is short-lived and loses its vitality and vivacity over time, hurting its blooms, you must divide it every 2 to 3 years. To do so, dig out the native plant using a shovel or a garden fork in early spring when it’s about to experience a growth spurt (although fall works, too). Either shake the plant or spray it with water to remove the soil from its root ball. With a sharp shear, carefully partition the plant into smaller clumps, ensuring each specimen retains around 3 to 4 shoots and the roots. Finally, plant the divided blue-eyed grasses in containers to boost root development. If transplanting directly to moist soils, ensure each clump is 6 to 8 inches apart.

Other care tips

Person applying mulch

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As partial shading can adversely impact their flowering, always give your blue-eyed grass plants six hours of direct sunlight to get the best blooms. Counterintuitively, these herbaceous perennials don’t perform well in rich soils, growing leggy and weepy over time. So, plant them in slightly acidic to neutral, sandy, or loamy soils with a low salt content. If you’re worried about the soil’s quality, spread a 3-inch-thick mulch layer around the plant’s base while minimizing stem contact.

Being native to swampy areas, marshes, damp fields, and meadows, these grasses are fond of moist soils, provided they have good drainage. So, plan your watering accordingly to keep the soil from drying out between soakings, particularly during droughts. Although 1 inch of water total per week is usually optimum, you might have to switch things up depending on the variety, rainfall, drainage, and soil composition. Finally, if you’re growing the plant as turfgrass, be wary of it becoming weedy. In such cases, mow down under one third of the blade length and aerate the lawn regularly to raise the plant’s drought tolerance.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.