Blue fescue is an ornamental grass and a fun little plant that is best described as “mounding” and semi-evergreen. This means it makes a little mound of grass and kinda looks blue-green all winter.
Having said that, this plant is rated as a USDA zone 5 plant and although I’ve overwintered it in a zone 4, it has also died in that same garden. So a 5 is probably pretty close to reliable and you takes your chances in a zone 4. If you really want this plant in a zone 4, grow Large Blue fescue (Festuca amethystina) as it seems a little hardier and comes back more often.
Festuca ‘Elija Blue’
Where to Plant
Plant this ornamental grass in full sun and in well-drained soils. It is only going to grow 6-12 inches tall (depending on variety) so don’t plant it at the back of the garden.
It is more suited to the front of the garden or rock gardens or even in perennial flower containers.
I note that wet winters will kill it deader than a doornail. If you get hot, dry weather you’re going to water this plant or it will either die back or turn an ugly brown shade as the leaves go crispy.
Propagation is easiest by division. In the early spring, dig up the clump and separate as many little bits as you like. Commercial growers only leave one little stem and bit of root per division as this plant will grow very quickly.
Do not be afraid to divide it – if you don’t divide it every two to three years, it will die out on you. A clump that measures 8-inches across can easily give you ten plants (or many more if you’re brave or desperate).
Some folks ask about seed and yes, you can grow the blue fescue species plants from seed. The hybrids don’t come true (like most flowers). I also do not collect seed from this plant as I tend to remove the seedpods as they’re forming. They don’t add anything to the plant in my opinion and removing them keeps the plant more mounded (looking better like this). Some gardeners like the look of the tan flowers/seeds and leave them. It’s your garden so you get to choose.
Varieties to look for:
- Festuca amethystine 18-inches tall.
- F. glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ 8-10-inches tall and one of the best blue leaves.
- F. glauca ‘Jana’s Blue’ 6-12-inches tall with blue-green foliage.
- F. glauca ‘Blue Glow’ 12-18-inches tall and silver-blue leaves.
- F. glauca ‘Sea Urchin’ 6-12-inches tall, spiky foliage in blue-green shade (like a porcupine).
Blue Fescue Seeds can be found here
Ornamental grass seed and plants can be found here