Drooping seed heads hang in clusters from slightly arching stems topping an upright clump of bamboo-like foliage. Green leaves turn copper in fall and the seed heads emerge green but turn purplish bronze by late summer then dry to a straw color. The more water it receives, the more tolerant it will be of intense sun, but it still prefers shade. Clumping grasses like this provide nest sites and winter cover for quail, sparrows and other wildlife. They also provide fall and winter seeds for a number of birds including cardinals, towhees, juncos, sparrows and finches.
Larval host for: Pepper & salt skipper, Bells roadside skipper and Bronzed roadside skipper
Provides nesting sites, protective cover and food for birds
Use foliage and flower in fresh or dried arrangements
Seeds eaten by small mammals and granivorous birds
Seed stalks are decorative in dried arrangements
Good winter interest, very hardy
Woods, thickets and bottomland; New Jersey to Illinois to Kansas south to Texas and Florida.
Northern sea oats is one of the few native grasses that grows well in shade. You can plant it in the border, shade garden, naturalized areas, along streams or on the edge of a water garden. It also grows well in large containers.
Easy to grow in full sun to part shade. Tolerates shade. Plant in dry to moist, well-drained soil. Surprisingly drought tolerant. Will self-seed. Leave foliage in place over winter for winter interest and to provide homes for over-wintering critters. This also helps protect crowns from the cold. Cut back to the ground in early spring before new growth begins.