How to Plant, Grow, and Care For Blue-Eyed Grass

Are you looking for a low-maintenance plant that adds a unique look to your landscape? Blue-eyed grass is beautiful and interesting and blends well into just about any landscape style. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen will discuss the proper care and maintenance of these spectacular and versatile plants.

Delicate blue-eyed grass showcasing sky-blue petals at the edge of the slender, green leaves. The intricate flower cluster forms a stunning contrast against the surrounding foliage, emphasizing its petite yet captivating nature.


Contrary to what its name implies, blue-eyed grass is not actually related to grass. Rather, it is an herbaceous perennial and a member of the iris family (Iridaceae). The thin-bladed leaves resemble grass, and mature clusters closely resemble clumps of sedge when not in flower.

There are over one hundred species of Sisyrinchium, which are highly varied and adapted to many different regions and climates. In addition, there are numerous cultivars adding even more variations. This article will focus primarily on Sisyrinchium angustifolium, which is common and widespread throughout eastern North America. 

At the peak of its springtime flowering, blue-eyed grass puts on a showy display. Because of the densely growing habit of this plant, your patch will feature lush green foliage and an array of bluish-purple star-like flowers for you to enjoy. Each year, you can expect your patch to spread, growing larger and even more attractive.

This versatile plant is easy to grow and can be used in a variety of gardening styles. Are you looking for an addition to your cottage garden, pocket prairie, or rain garden? Try blue-eyed grass. As a plus, it blooms reliably in the spring and attracts an assortment of springtime pollinators. 

Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the use, care, and maintenance of these charming and highly diverse plants

Plant Overview

Vibrant purple flowers, each with a sunny yellow center, bloom elegantly in the daylight, showcasing the delicate beauty of blue-eyed grass. The delicate blue-eyed grass plants stand tall against a backdrop of rich brown soil.
Plant Type Herbaceous perennial
Family Iridaceae
Genus Sisyrinchium
Species angustifolium
Native Area Eastern North America
USDA Hardiness Zone 4 – 9
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type Rich, well-drained, moist
Watering Requirements Medium
Maintenance Low
Suggested Uses Pollinator garden, ground cover, borders, native garden
Height 1 – 2 feet
Bloom Season Spring
Flower Color Blue, lavender, yellow
Attracts Butterflies, bees, pollinators, birds
Problems Rare
Resistant To Pests, diseases
Plant Spacing 6 – 12 inches

Plant Natural History

Purple flowers, their yellow centers vivid in the sunlight, blossom elegantly atop slender stalks. The delicate blossoms create a captivating contrast against a softly blurred background.
This wildflower, with over a hundred species, grows in diverse habitats across the Americas.

Blue-eyed grass (S. angustifolium) is an herbaceous perennial wildflower native to eastern North America from Canada south to Florida and east to Texas. There are over one hundred unique species, as well as several cultivars. Other species are found throughout North and South America, including several with very small native ranges and others with such small populations that they are listed as rare and endangered. 

The common eastern variety grows naturally in moist open woodlands, along forested streams, and in moist ravines. It is most commonly found in areas with at least some dappled shade rather than fully exposed sunny areas. Most importantly, it grows in areas with consistently moist soil. Each unique species will be well-adapted to its own natural habitat.

Many species are perennials, although there are others that are short-lived perennials or annuals. These plants typically bloom in the spring and attract pollinators. Blue-eyed grass has become a popular landscaping plant because of its unique appearance, versatility, and ease of growth. 


A close-up capturing vibrant purple blue-eyed grass flowers with striking yellow centers. The background features more of these striking flowers and blue-eyed grasses, creating a captivating display of nature's beauty and diversity.
Eastern blue-eyed grass blooms in spring with pale blue to lavender purple flowers.

The common eastern blue-eyed grass generally grows between one and two feet tall. It has thin, grass-like leaves and grows in dense clusters, spreading slowly by self-seeding and rhizomes. Over time, clusters can grow very densely, blocking out weeds and creating an effective ground cover. 

This plant typically blooms in the springtime. Depending on the variety, location, and climate, it may bloom anywhere from late winter through early summer. The flowers open singly atop thin grass-like flowering stems. These come in shades of pale blue to lavender purple. Some varieties, however, have white flowers or even yellow flowers. Some are very robust-looking, while others have a very delicate appearance. They generally all have prominent yellow centers.

After flowering, you will be left with the grass-like leaves for the rest of the summer growing season. In mild climates, some species stay semi-evergreen, although the foliage will start to look a bit weak and ragged by the end of winter before new growth appears. 

How to Grow

This wildflower is very easy to grow in any location with moderate sunlight and moist soil. Once established, these plants require very little maintenance other than occasional thinning or trimming if the clumps begin to look unkempt. 


Blue flowers soak in the golden sunlight, their azure hues shimmering with nature's brilliance. The blurred backdrop unveils a serene scene, showcasing clusters of these enchanting flowers, their slender stems gracefully swaying in the gentle breeze.
They thrive in full sun or partial shade, needing at least two hours of sunlight daily.

Choose a location with full sun or partial shade. Ideally, it should receive at least two hours of direct sunlight per day. In hot climates, these plants appreciate some shade. In cooler climates, they perform very well in full sun.


A close-up showcasing two purple  flowers boasting yellow centers against a softly blurred backdrop of surrounding grasses and soil. The intricate petals reveal delicate details while the yellow centers draw focus, creating a mesmerizing floral composition in nature.
Provide supplemental water during times of drought.

Blue-eyed grass needs consistently moist soil that does not dry completely. During times of drought, you may need to provide some supplemental watering. Because these are wild plants, they do best with deep, slow watering. Opt for a trickling hose, soaker lines, or drip irrigation.


A close-up of nutrient-rich, damp brown soil in a brown pot. Tiny particles form a textured surface, teeming with nutrients. Moisture glistens across the soil, promising a nurturing environment for plant growth.
Plant in well-drained, nutrient-rich, slightly acidic soil for optimal growth.

The soil for your blue-eyed grass should be average to rich in organic matter. It needs to be well-drained so your plants aren’t sitting in soggy soil, but it should also hold some moisture during the growing season. Keep the soil pH neutral to slightly acidic.

Climate and Temperature

Two delicate purple flowers stand tall, their slender stems reaching toward the warm sunlight. The blossoms boast captivating yellow centers amidst soft, petal layers. In the backdrop, blurred greenery creates a serene, natural canvas.
They thrive in USDA Zones 4-9, adapting to diverse climates and humidity.

Blue-eyed grass is hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 9. It does well in both warm and cool climates with varying humidity levels. Any species, perennial or annual, die back in winter freezes. Blooming will cease in hot summers.


A wooden crate stands open, filled with a dark, rich compost pile ready for use. Nutrient-rich soil teems with decomposed organic matter, fostering growth for plants. Lush weeds encircle the crate, thriving in the nutrient-rich environment.
Boost growth with organic compost in spring for improved soil nutrition and moisture retention.

Blue-eyed grass does not require supplemental fertilizer to perform well. If you are concerned about your soil quality or have particularly nutrient-poor soil, add a thin layer of organic compost around your plants each spring to give them a gentle nutrient boost. The compost will maintain a consistent level of soil moisture.


This petite perennial, displays slender, blade-like leaves arranged in tufts around a central stem. Nestled among large rocks.
To keep blue-eyed grass tidy, it’s necessary to occasionally trim or separate it.

Blue-eyed grass is very low maintenance. If your larger clusters start looking messy or overgrown, trim the foliage or divide them and replant smaller clusters. Don’t mow the leaves low like your grassy lawn after these plants bloom. The leaves are needed to for photosynthesis. 

Garden Design

Amidst vibrant foliage, purple blue-eyed grass flowers bloom, their delicate petals catching the sun's golden rays. Nestled among them, white blossoms emerge, creating a stunning contrast against the rich hues.
Use this wildflower for shaded gardens or as pathway edging.

Blue-eyed grass is a versatile plant for landscaping. It is a clump-forming perennial wildflower that is easily incorporated into a woodland, wildflower, or prairie garden. Because it tolerates some shade, it is an excellent addition to a moist woodland garden or a shaded border. 

Clusters slowly spread outward over time, making this plant an effective ground cover. It won’t spread aggressively, however, so don’t worry about it taking over your garden. Grow it in a moist, partially shaded rock garden where its thin, bright green foliage complements a variety of other foliage types. 

Regardless of which type of garden you are creating, place your blue-eyed grass in a location where you can see it and fully appreciate it. This attractive plant deserves a place near the front of your gardening area where it won’t be blocked from view by taller plants. Because of its compact form and low stature, it is easily used as an edging along pathways and borders.


There are many beautiful varieties, a few of which are listed below. Each is best adapted to the environments where they are found naturally. No matter which region of the country you live in, you are likely to find a species that is well-suited to your local climate conditions. 

Western Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium bellum

A close-up of purple Western blue-eyed blossoms, delicately catching sunlight. The petals reveal intricate patterns, drawing focus amidst a soft, blurred backdrop of swaying grass. Nature's hues and textures are beautifully captured in this detailed floral scene.
Native to California and Oregon, Western blue-eyed grass bursts with showy purple flowers.

Western blue-eyed grass is native to California and Oregon. This plant grows to one foot tall and has showy purple flowers that bloom in the winter and spring. If you live on the West Coast, this species performs best in your regional climate

Annual Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium rosulatum

A close-up of a purple annual flower, its petals showcasing a stunning hue against a softly blurred background. The elongated petals create a striking contrast, drawing attention to the yellow center that radiates natural beauty and intricate detail.
This variety has yellow or pale white-blue flowers blooming in spring.

Annual blue-eyed grass is native to the southeastern United States. This is an annual species that has either pink or very pale white-blue flowers that bloom in the spring. This variety readily reseeds itself in warm climates, so expect to see it blooming in your garden each year.

Alaska Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium littorale

A delicate Alaska flower in close-up, its pale blue petals gently unfurling around a vibrant yellow center. The blurred background accentuates the flower's exquisite details, drawing focus to its captivating hues.
Compact Alaska blue-eyed grass features striking purple and blue flowers.

Alaska blue-eyed grass is a compact species growing up to about 16 inches tall. It has showy purple and blue flowers with bold yellow centers and blooms in early spring. It is native from Alaska south to Washington state

Mountain Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium montanum

Mountain blue-eyed grass, a perennial herbaceous plant, stands tall with slender leaves, displaying purple flowers in a cluster. Each delicate petal catches the sunlight, casting a mesmerizing hue of purples.
This variety features thin, dark green leaves and dark purple-blue spring flowers.

The mountain blue-eyed grass, also known as strict blue-eyed grass, is native across the northern United States and Canada. This species has thin, dark green leaves and dark purple-blue flowers that bloom in the spring. This species is a great option for colder climates.  

Dwarf Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium minus

In this close-up, a purple flower takes center stage. The intricate details of the flower's core unfold, revealing a mesmerizing dance of colors against a soft, blurred backdrop of verdant grasses.
A native annual in scattered southern states, dwarf blue-eyed grass grows six to nine inches tall.

The dwarf blue-eyed grass is an annual species native to a few scattered southern states. It grows only six to nine inches tall and has purplish flowers that vary from almost white to a deep mauve color. These compact plants perform well in warm climates and readily reseed themselves for continued growth year after year.

Wildlife Value

Five delicate purple flowers stand tall amid a sea of grasses, their slender stems swaying gently in the breeze. Bathed in warm sunlight, their petals create a mesmerizing contrast against the lush green foliage.
This springtime bloomer attracts native bees and early butterflies.

Blue-eyed grass blooms in the springtime and attracts pollinators. You may see native bees and an occasional early-season butterfly visiting the flowers. Because they typically bloom before many other flowers, this plant is a valuable addition to your pollinator-friendly landscape. 

Common Problems

A cluster of slender leaves sways gently in the breeze, its delicate stalks bending gracefully. Among the verdant foliage, purple flowers bloom, their intricate petals creating a captivating contrast against the greenery.
Plant in well-drained soil to prevent root rot.

This plant is remarkably trouble-free. You are unlikely to have any issues with pests or diseases. Just make sure the soil is well drained. Plants sitting in consistently wet soil are likely to rot.


Blue-eyed grass is easy to grow and easy to propagate. Plants are best grown from seed or by division of mature clusters. Since these are popular with gardeners, you also sometimes find young starts at nurseries and garden centers, particularly those that specialize in native species.


A close-up of seed pods in a green hue, each pod displaying delicate textures and intricate patterns. The blurred background reveals a multitude of pods, creating a harmonious botanical tapestry within nature's embrace.
Protect its seeds and seedlings from animals with a critter cage.

Although this method requires a bit of patience, blue-eyed grass can be successfully grown from seed. The seeds typically require a phase of cold stratification before they germinate. The easiest way to do this is to grow your plants under natural environmental conditions. If you buy seeds in a packet, directly sow them outside in late fall. 

The seeds overwinter and germinate in the spring with the onset of warmer weather and moist soil conditions. Young plants very much resemble small blades of grass. Keep the seeds and young plants moist, and do not allow them to dry out. If you have problems with squirrels or other small animals digging into your soil, protect your seeds and seedlings with a critter cage.


A close-up of hands delicately separating a cluster of grass from rich soil. Fingers gently cradle the slender stems, showcasing a careful, tactile connection with nature. The vibrant green of the plant contrasts vividly with the earthy tones of the soil.
Propagation through division involves digging up mature clusters in early spring or late fall.

Dividing your clumps is the easiest and most successful way to propagate blue-eyed grass. If you have a mature cluster, dig it up in the early spring or late fall and divide it into just a few or several new clumps.

Each new clump can then be replanted or transplanted to new locations. After dividing, water your new transplants well to help them recover from transplant shock


A close-up showcasing two purple  flowers boasting yellow centers against a softly blurred backdrop of surrounding grasses and soil. The intricate petals reveal delicate details while the yellow centers draw focus, creating a mesmerizing floral composition in nature.
Plant out potted blue-eyed grass into your garden during early spring or fall.

If you have a potted plant, you’ll eventually transplant it into a permanent location in your garden. The best time to do this is during the early spring or fall when the weather is cool and mild

Identify the location where you will put your plants and prepare the soil by digging a hole slightly larger than the pot. Carefully remove your blue-eyed grass from its pot and gently place it in the hole so that the ground levels match. Then, fill any gaps around the edges with fresh soil and pat it down around the plant. Finally, give it a thorough watering and keep your newly transplanted plants moist. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to grow my blue-eyed grass in a shade garden; what are some other plants that would grow well together?

If you are choosing plants for a shade garden with moist soil, you have some great options available. Try growing it alongside a few species of ferns. The different foliage types will look perfect together. Add some other spring-blooming shade-loving wildflowers such as Solomon’s seal or columbine for a vibrant springtime display. If you want a hardy evergreen perennial that loves shade, try a lenten rose.

How long will it take my blue-eyed grass to grow from seed until blooming?

Both the annual and perennial varieties bloom within their first year. If you sow the seeds in the fall and allow them to cold stratify during the winter months, they will sprout in early spring. You will have your first flowers by late spring or early summer. Established perennial plants will have a head start on those started from seed and will tend to bloom a bit earlier in the season.

Is blue-eyed grass good for containers and raised beds?

This plant grows well in a container garden and its compact size works well in raised beds alongside other flowering plants. The one thing to be careful about is keeping the soil moist. Containers tend to dry out faster than in-ground plantings, so be sure to water regularly. Keeping them in a shaded place and adding a layer of mulch on the top will also help preserve soil moisture.

Final Thoughts

With a bit of shade and moist soil, you can’t go wrong with blue-eyed grass. Each year, you will enjoy the delightful and delicate grass-like foliage of this plant, suddenly bursting into vibrant blooms and attracting spring pollinators. Incorporate it into just about any landscaping style, and you have a beautiful, hardy, and reliable wildflower to enjoy year after year.

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