What is Blue Fescue?

Alex Tree

Blue fescue, scientifically known as Festuca glauca, is a specie of grass belonging to the family Poaceae. Its foliage is shaped like a dome with a tuft that resembles a porcupine with blades that arch to erect needles. When used as a garden plant, it is usually placed to accent other plants due to its appeal as edging. The blue fescue is a perennial plant that can be cultivated as a semi-evergreen or evergreen. It is a clumping ornamental grass, highly favored for its blue-gray stalks and noted for the frosted appearance and fine texture of its foliage.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Also referred to as elijah blue, the blue fescue does not normally grow taller than about 4 feet (1.2 m). In cultivation, these grasses can reach a height of 5.5 to 6.3 inches (roughly 14 to 18 cm) with clusters of flowers that bring it to a height of about 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm). The light green flowers are somewhat subdued and appear in the later part of spring to early summer. These flowers have a purple tinge and give way to seed heads that are puffy like wheat.

Blue fescue grass is a popular addition to rock gardens because it is tolerant of drought. It is often planted along the front row of flower beds as well since its height does not pose a risk of shading or obscuring the view of flowers behind it. The growth behavior of this plant is comparable to that of bamboo. When the plant has many dead leaves, it can be pruned back to a minimum height of about 1.6 inches (4 cm) from the ground.

This ornamental grass prefers regular watering, well-drained soils and full sun conditions. It is most often propagated by division, and each clump can be separated into many little clusters for transplanting. The blue fescue grass can also be grown from seeds. As this plant can grow quickly, most commercial gardeners leave only one stem and a little bit of root for every division. If not divided within a period of two to three years, the grass is very likely to die out.

During very hot and humid summers, there may be a considerable decline in this plant’s foliage. Weeds usually grow among the clumps and should be removed manually. If it covers a wider area and removing by hand takes too long to accomplish, an alternative way of removing unwanted weeds is by spraying the affected area with an herbicide.

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