Blue Oat GrassHelictotrichon sempervirens 'Saphirsprudel' (= ‘Sapphire’)
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Blue Oat Grass is a striking ornamental grass that forms a dense clump of thin leaves, rising about 18 inches into the air, like the fine spray of a fountain. The foliage is a bold silver-blue color, and in warmer zones it is evergreen, looking good all through winter. In summer stems to 3 feet tall rise up, carrying clusters of nodding grass flowers that sway and rustle in the breeze. A superb grass for sunny areas, rocky slopes, edging beds, rock gardens, coastal gardens and in planters.
Full sun is best for the Blue Oat Grass, which will take an hour or two of shade as well. It needs well-drained soil, and will grow in almost all types of soil, from clay to sandy gravels. It isn’t bothered by pests, diseases or deer and it tolerates drought and salt-spray well. Cut down to a inch or two tall in fall or late winter, if needed to encourage fresh, new foliage.
When it comes to easy gardening, few plants can rival ornamental grasses. Among them, few can rival the Blue Oat Grass for the ‘plant and forget’ approach. The sparkling blue fountain of slender leaves is a reliable addition to any sunny and dry area, and in warmer zones it’s evergreen for year-round beauty. Of course it’s actually hard to simply forget it, because the bold color and unique form are going to catch your attention every time you see it, in leaf or when the nodding flower spikes rise above the tuft of blue leaves. The perfect answer to bringing life and beauty wherever the soil is dry, and making charming drifts in the foreground of your beds, the Blue Oat Grass is never invasive and never too big (or too small). It’s always a reliable friend that adds interest and variety everywhere you plant it. The original German name of ‘Saphirsprudel’ means ‘blue fountain’, and that’s exactly what this charmer is – a fine spray of silver-blue shooting from the ground and sparkling in the sun.
Blue Oat Grass is a clump-forming perennial grass that is evergreen in warmer zones. It grows as a fountain of very thin leaves, rising to about 18 inches above the ground, with a similar spread. The leaves are almost hair-like, very slender but flexible and strong. They have a sharp but not spiny tip, and they are a bright silvery-blue that is very clear and strong. Between May and August, depending on where you are, slender flower stems rise up to as much as 3 feet, topped with nodding clusters of grass flowers. These sway and rustle in the breeze, bringing a very attractive look to your summer garden. The flower stems are at first a soft blue, gradually maturing to a light tan color. The stems last for many weeks and even into fall. This grass is not invasive – it grows as a clump that gradually expands. In colder areas the leaves will die during the winter, but in warmer areas they will remain evergreen, with new leaves sprouting up when spring comes.
The striking color and fountain-form of Blue Oat Grass make it a great accent in any bed. It can be grown as a single plant in smaller spaces, or planted in groups or drifts to fill larger spaces. It can also be grown as an edging along a path. For group planting, space plants 2 feet apart for a dazzling sea of air and light. Excellent planted among rocks and gravel mulch, on slopes, rock gardens and in small pockets of soil. Also valuable for pots – plant alone for a modern vibe or mix it with different trailing and flowering plants.
Blue Oat Grass is incredibly cold-resistant, and it grows even in zone 3. It also grows through into zone 8 – a plant almost everyone can enjoy.
Full sun is best for Blue Oat Grass, but it will take an hour or two of shade each day without any serious problems. Too much shade will produce weak, disease-prone growth. Any well-drained soil is suitable, including sandy, rocky and gravel soils, although the lushest growth is seen when the ground is moist but not wet. It grows well at the sea, with good resistance to salt spray and coastal conditions.
Blue Oat Grass isn’t bothered by pests or diseases, or eaten by deer. It needs no special attention, just regular watering for the first few weeks after planting. Once established it is drought resistant. In colder areas the leaves will die, so cut it down to a couple of inches tall in fall or early spring – don’t wait until new leaves appear or it will be impossible not to cut them. Old flowering stems can be removed at any time. In warmer areas where it is evergreen it may become untidy after a few years. Simply cut it down in late winter and new growth will soon make it perfect again.
Blue Oat Grass, Helictotrichon sempervirens, is a wild grass from southern and central Europe, where it grows in grasslands and open areas, including near the sea. The variety called ‘Saphirsprudel’ is a plant with stronger silver-blue leaf coloring. It is sometimes called ‘Sapphire’ or ‘Sapphire Fountain’, which is the meaning of the German name. It was introduced in 1982 by Heinz Klose, an enthusiastic and expert breeder of perennials. Klose and his wife Rosa were part of the extensive network of German nurserymen who pioneered the growing of perennials in gardens last century, introducing many improved varieties that are still garden ‘standards’ today.
No garden today is complete without ornamental grasses, and Blue Oat Grass is an essential variety to grow – as well as being incredibly beautiful, versatile and super-easy. It won an Award of Merit from Great Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society in 1993. Our grasses are always in high demand, so order your plants now, while we still have a good supply available.