May 26, 2015
Imagine stepping out of your car in a large parking lot and seeing delicate, periwinkle blue, tiny blooms in all directions.
That's what happened to us during a visit to a Florida state park in early March.
The blooms we saw were those of Blue-Eyed Grass and, although I don't know for sure, I'm assuming they were the more common North American species (Sisyrinchium angustifolium).
Besides the fact that they were incredibly lovely and plentiful in this naturalized setting in Florida, I knew they also bloom in my northern state, albeit much later in the season ... like now, in May and June.
In fact, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, this species is native to most of Eastern North America--from Newfoundland, west to Ontario, in the north; through Florida and Texas, in the south. In other words, it thrives in USDA zones 3 to 10.
I also found a patch within my parents' Florida retirement community. The landscaping folks mow it once a week, and it pops right back up to bloom again! Floridata, the Floridata Plant Encyclopedia mentions that, "Blue-Eyed Grass is a great little plant for almost anywhere in the garden. It needs almost no attention, thriving with neglect."
Although its nickname includes the word "grass," this plant is a member of the same family and subfamily (Iridoideae) as Irises. It only grows to 1.5 feet, and forms tufted clumps. It can be propagated by seed or division. And it prefers moist conditions, although it can tolerate poor to average soils.
I was familiar with Blue-Eyed Grass, having seen it growing wild in Wisconsin in prairie settings. But I had never seen it naturalize in such a wide expanse before. In addition, I hadn't planted it in my own garden, because I figured it needed more sun. Recently, I was delighted to find out that not only can Blue-Eyed grass tolerate some shade, "especially high shade, as under tall trees," notes Floridata, it also takes well to potting. So, Blue-Eyed Grass will soon make an appearance in my "high shade" garden.
I'm linking this post to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday meme, over at Clay and Limestone. Head on over to learn about fascinating wildflowers from around the world.
Update for Wisconsin readers: Sisyrinchium angustifolium is a State Special Concern Plant in Wisconsin. Click the link to learn more about what that means. Propagate by purchasing plants or seeds from a reliable native plant garden center.