Andropogon gerardii 'Dancing Wind' (Big Bluestem)
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Andropogon gerardii 'Dancing Wind' (Big Bluestem) is a hardy, low-maintenance, slightly shorter cultivar of the native species Andropogon gerardii. While the cultivar is shorter, it doesn't lose any of the showiness associated with big bluestem; the summer foliage is light green accented with red, but as the season progresses, the foliage reliably turns from red to deep scarlets and wine colors. In addition, a shorter profile means that this Andropogon's upright habit is more persistent through the colder months, so colorful dried foliage will be present through the fall and winter.
Relatively slow to establish, this grass is drought-resistance once established, and reaches up to 6 feet in height in a variety of well drained soils, so long as it's provided with full sun; 'Dancing Wind' is also less water tolerant than some big bluestem cultivars, and prefers drier, less fertile soils. Airy purplish flowers appear in late summer before turning to persistent seed heads, which last through the winter and provide a food source for migrating and overwintering birds. An equally excellent choice for sunny, drought-prone gardens or for erosion management projects, 'Dancing Wind' is a colorful cultivar with excellent ecological benefits. It is advised to cut stems down to the ground in the late winter or early spring before new growth appears.