How do you grow Big Bluestem in a container?


Can Big Bluestem be grown in a 5 X 2.5 foot deep container or another size container? How many plants per container and what should the size be? I am looking to do this so the plants are not in the ground and become too invasive yet I want it for screening a neighbor. 


Lynne M. Holland, Horticulture and Social Media Professional

Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) will eventually fill any size container you put it in and 2.5 feet deep is a good start.  How many and how far apart depends on how quickly you want this privacy barrier to reach maturity.  Planting should be done by mid-June for it to become established this year.

In general, Bluestem is seen as a forage/field grass and is seed planted.  It would be best to use a named variety for container planting so that the mature height and spread can be considered.  Various varieties are anywhere from 3-7 feet tall and spread 1-4 feet.  Follow the directions for that variety as far as spacing is concerned.  If you plant more intensely it will fill in sooner but you will also have to split it sooner as well. In general, 2-3 per container, if you are starting with small plants (under 1-gallon pot) should work.

Most of the named varieties are also Zone 4 hardy (versus Zone 3 for the species).  You will have to protect the container from drying winds and cold in the winter since the root ball is above ground (moving them to a sheltered place for the winter will help of insulating them by surrounding them with bags of leaves).