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Products > Helictotrichon sempervirens
 
Helictotrichon sempervirens - Blue Oat Grass
   

 
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grasses)
Origin: Mediterranean (Europe)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Light Blue
Bloomtime: Summer
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: < 0 F
Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue Oat Grass) - A cool season evergreen clump-forming grass that grows to 2 feet tall by up to 3 feet wide with blue-gray leaves radiating out like a bristly porcupine. The light tan flowers are on erect spikes that rise a foot above the foliage in mid-summer, though flowering is not as strong or commonly seen in southern California as in areas with cooler winters. Plant in full sun or light shade and give occasional irrigation. This plant remains evergreen in mild climates but is considered semi-evergreen in areas that experience harsher winters and is hardy to USDA zone 4 and perhaps 3. In these areas it is best to trim plants back close to the ground in late winter. It performs best in soils with good drainage and may rot in heavy soils, especially if over irrigated. The blue color seems best in dryer soils when plant is in full sun or bright shade; too much shade and the plant flops over and opens up in the middle. Maintain plants by removing withered leaves as they appear or by occasionally pulling a steel rake through the foliage. This stunning European grass has long been one of the most popular grasses we have grown but observations over time of plantings of it have us questioning whether it really is suitable as sustainable plant in our mediterranean climate, particularly in warmer southern California where it tends to last only a few years. It is native to central and southwestern Europe (France to Italy) and where it is happy it is a great grass for use as an accent plant or in mass plantings. The genus name Helictotrichon comes from the Greek words 'helictos' meaning "twisted" or "spiral" and 'trichos' meaning "hair" or "spine" in reference to the twisted awns with the specific epithet meaning evergreen. Helictotrichon sempervirens won the coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993.  This description is based on research and observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in our nursery garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We also try to incorporate comments received from others and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have any additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Helictotrichon sempervirens.
 
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