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Andropogon Gerardii Red October, or Big Blue Stem Grass, is a tough ornamental grass which will put on a spectacular show every year in your garden. Well-suited either to naturalising in a broad swath or growing in a small clump, this bright red stunner will never fail to delight!
Big Blue Stem Grass once dominated the western prairies of North America, and has the resilient qualities necessary to survive in that challenging environment, while at the same time providing a vibrant burst of autumn colour. The stems emerge in spring, forming a tall clump of narrow, arching, blue-green leaves up to 60 cm in length which gradually deepen to burgundy. In late summer, small purplish flowers bloom on red stems. Then in autumn the real show begins, when the leaves turn to bright shades of red ranging from candy apple to scarlet after the first frost, living up to the name Andropogon Gerardii Red October.
Hardy throughout the UK, Andropogon Gerardii Red October will form a clump 2 metres high and 60 cm across within 2-5 years. Cut down last year’s growth in early spring before the new shoots emerge. Space plants 45-75 cm apart for mass plantings.
Big Blue Stem Grass should be planted in full sun in any well-drained soil with a south, east, or west aspect. It is extremely drought-tolerant once established, and should not be in wet soil in winter. If planted in moist or overly fertile soil, the stems are more likely to be floppy rather than upright, so a dry soil is preferable. Resistant to pests, diseases, and deer, and tolerant of pollution and salt, Andropogon Gerardii Red October is an extremely versatile plant for almost any garden situation.
Andropogon Gerardii Red October is one of the native prairie grasses that kept the soil of the Great Plains from eroding for millennia, and it is highly recommended for erosion control today. Planted on a dry slope, its extensive root system will soon develop, and as a bonus provide a stunning autumn show. A small clump in a city garden will make a good backdrop for seasonal flowers, as well as giving winter interest, and a row of Big Blue Stem Grass makes a dense hedge from summer through winter.
Whether planted as a single specimen or en masse, Andropogon Gerardii Red October can be relied upon to bring a bright splash of colour to your garden every year!
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