1078 Sisyrinchium angustifoliumCommon Names: blue-eyed grass Family: Iridaceae (iris Family)
Blue-eyed grass grows in a clump around 1-2 ft (30-60 cm) across and about the same height. The leaves are linear, up to 20 in (50 cm) long, often grow in the shape of a fan, and look a lot like grass leaves. They are evergreen in mild climates. The flowers have six bluish purple "petals" with yellow centers. (Actually the "petals" consist of three sepals and three true petals, but they all look pretty much alike.) The flowers are about three-quarters of an inch (1.9 cm) across, and stand erect above the leaves on slender grasslike flattened stalks. Individually, they are short lived, but the succession of flowers can last several weeks in spring and early summer.
Recent authorities have combined several previously recognized species (Sisyrinchium angustifolia, S. graminoides, S. atlanticum, and S. miamiense) into a single wide ranging species that occurs from Newfoundland and Quebec to southern Florida and west to eastern Texas. Its native habitat is open woods, moist pinelands, fields, meadows, marshes, the edges of swamps and grassy roadsides.
CultureBlue-eyed grass is a great little plant for almost anywhere in the garden. It needs almost no attention, thriving with neglect. Light: Blue-eyed grass does great in full sun but can tolerate some shade, especially high shade as under tall trees. Moisture: Once established, blue-eyed grass shouldn't need supplemental watering when grown within its natural range in eastern North America. Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 - 10. Propagation: Blue-eyed grass may self-seed. It's also easy to divide the clumps to start new plants.
This is a lovely plant for borders and the edges of flower beds. Even when not in bloom, the grassy clumps are attractive. They are low growers and of course should be planted in the foreground where they can be appreciated. Blue-eyed grass looks great in a container too, the long grassy leaves hanging over the edges and the pretty little blue-eyed flowers standing above.
It's always nice to find a native (to eastern North America, that is) plant that is an outstanding garden flower. Blue-eyed grass, Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica), lyre-leaf sage (Salvia lyrata) and Stokes aster (Stokesia laevis) are all North American natives that rival any cultivated store-bought flowers. All can be grown in a naturalistic semi-sunny garden where they will delight the eye, delight the butterflies and ask for no special treatment. My little native flower garden here in northern Florida includes these and also a native spiderwort (Tradescantia), a native lantana, and butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Steve Christman 4/23/08; updated 4/20/11