Content Detail

Bottlebrush grass is a native grass that is found in wooded areas rather than in prairies. It can be used for naturalizing in shady sites. 

This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Grass
  • Family (botanic) Poaceae
  • Tree or plant type Grass, Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Season of interest early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Other
  • Shape or form Upright

Size and form:

Bottlebrush grass has an upright habit and grows 2 to 3 feet tall when in flower. It is a cool season, clumping grass.

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 5. Bottlebrush grass is native to a large portion of the eastern United States. It is common in wooded areas. 

Leaf description:

Green leaves alternate along the stem. The leaves will grow 8 to 12 inches long and turn beige in the fall. 

Flower arrangement size and shape:

Bottlebrush grass flowers in summer. The tiny green flowers are produced in a bottlebrush-shaped spike and are accompanied by long awns (bristles). The flowers are wind pollinated.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) are held in the same spike that held the flowers. The fruit matures to tan color and may begin to shatter in the fall.

Plant care:

It grows best planted in lightly shaded sites and hot, dry sites should be avoided. This plant can be used for naturalizing as it can self-seed, but seldom becomes weedy. This is a cool season grass, so its most active growth occurs in spring and fall. Unlike other cool season grasses though it will not be semi-evergreen in winter, but it still can act as winter interest. Cut back to the ground in early spring before new growth begins.

List of pests and diseases:

There aren’t any serious pest problems.


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