Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue oat grass) at Lovegrass Farm

Blue Oat Grass
 Helictotrichon (hel-ik-toh-TREE-kon) sempervirens (sem-per-VEYE-renz) or Blue oat grass.  Have you ever wondered why some grasses have these long names that are difficult to pronounce?  The name Helictotrichon comes from the Greek words "helix" meaning spiral and 'trichos" meaning hair.  It's silvery blue foliage  grows to 24 in. or 60 cm. tall and sends out fine stems with oat like flowers another 24 in. or 60 cm. They turn a buff color in late summer.  Blue oat grass is semi-evergreen in our climate.  A cool season grass, it gets some winter kill, but soon sends up new growth in the Spring.  Blue Oat requires well drained soil and is drought tolerant once established.

Seedheads are emerging in early June
 Blue oat grass is among the very best of the mid-sized blue-leaved grasses for gardens. It is particularly beautiful massed in large groups and paired with blue-grey Mediterenean plants such as lavender that require the same soil conditions.

Blue oat combines well in a perennial border or makes a great border by itself for along a walkway.  Looks great in rock gardens and beside landscape boulders.  The blue contrasts nicely with our red sandstone.   It also contrasts well with purple leaf foliage & Carex flagellifera.  I like to mix them in large pots with Chameleon Euphorbia and orange & pink flowering plants.  Blue oat are more enduring than Fescues.

A meter ruler shows the height of Blue oat in summer

Blue oat still looks good in late October

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