It’s early April, but I’ve already started mowing the grass. The backyard just got a little too unruly and I have already gotten my first tick of the season. This is always a sign that it’s time to mow. I try to never walk through grass that is higher than my ankle just for that reason.
Now, the front yard I try to keep looking really nice and well kept so the neighbors don’t get too upset about my ‘wild’ gardening style, but the backyard I let get a little unruly at times. I like to leave some stuff in the grass for the birds and bees. There were so many pretty wildflowers growing up in the grass this week that I mowed around several patches so that there were some left for the bees and butterflies.
Mostly, the wildflowers were yellow-tops (butterweed) and Philadelphia fleabane, but I came across this lovely little flowering grass which I looked up in my wildflower books. It turns out it is prairie blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium campestre). While I have no doubt that this grass has been back here for several years, this is the first year I noticed the blooms. They are really striking.
Prairie Blue-Eyed Grass
If you stumbled across the plant when not in bloom, it wouldn’t inspire much thought. The leaves look like grass and arise from a clump. However, it is actually in the same family as irises. It’s about 6 inches tall but can grow to be as high as 10 inches and it’s a perennial!
The tiny little 1/2-inch flowers have six petals which are white or a very pale blue and a bright yellow center. The flowers grow on unbranched stems, making it look like they are growing from the leaves.
This plant was growing in the part-shade conditions in my lawn which stays moist most of the time. It can be grown in full-sun and prefers moist soils with decent drainage. For the best blooms, divide plants every couple of years. It blooms in spring.
Prairie blue-eyed grass is native to Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
This plant will do well in rock gardens and as a border. You can cut it back after the flowers to prevent self-seeding.
Songbirds and wild turkey feed on the seeds of prairie blue-eyed grass. In spring, when the flowers are blooming, you’ll see bees visiting them for nectar and pollen.