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How to Grow Helictotrichon — Oat Grass

Helictotrichon, blue oat grass
Helictotrichon, blue oat grass

Helictotrichon–commonly called oat grass or blue oat grass–is an evergreen, tussock-forming perennial grass that produces fountain-like clumps of light green to bright blue-gray narrow leaves. Helictotrichon grows 2 to 3 feet (2m) tall with a graceful habit.

Helictotrichon leaves are linear, flat, and ribbed or folded often with rolled margins. In early summer, Helictotrichon oblong, glistening, straw-colored, purple marked spikelets emerge from nodding panicles.

Helictotrichon is a good addition to a herbaceous or mixed border. Combine Helictotrichon with other grasses and broad-leafed plants. It can also be added to rock gardens.

Helictotrichon is a genus of about 50 species of tussock-forming, deciduous, and evergreen perennial grasses. Helictotrichon is native to rocky slopes, wasteland, and field margins in temperature Europe, West Asia, and North America. 

Get to Know Helictotrichon 

  • Plant type: Deciduous and evergreen, perennial grasses 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4 to 7 
  • Hardiness:  
  • Height and width: To 2-3 feet (.6-1m) tall and wide 
  • Growth rate:  
  • Form and habit: Clump-forming with spikes 
  • Foliage: Linear, mid- to light green, or gray-blue leaves are flat ribbed, or folded, or half rolled margins 
  • Flowers: Oblong, flattened, glistening spikelets are borne in erect or nodding panicles 
  • Fruits:  
  • Bloom time: Late summer 
  • Uses: Herbaceous or mixed border, gravel plantings, as specimen or in mass 
  • Garden companions: Purple or silver-leaved plants 
  • Common name: Other grasses and broad-leafed plants and boulders, or coral bells 
  • Botanical name: Helictotrichon 
  • Family name: Poaceae 
  • Origin: Europe, Western Asia, and North America 
Blossoming oat grass, Helictotrichon schellianum
Blossoming oat grass, Helictotrichon schellianum

Where to Plant Helictotrichon 

  • Plant Helictotrichon in full sun. 
  • Plant Helictotrichon in well-drained, poor to moderately fertile, preferably alkaline soil. 

When to Plant Helictotrichon 

  • Sow Helictotrichon seed in containers in a cold frame in spring.  

Planting and Spacing Helictotrichon 

  • Plant Helictotrichon 2-3 feet (.6-.9m) apart. 

How to Water and Feed Helictotrichon 

  • Give Helictotrichon regular water. 
  • Feed Helictotrichon with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring. 

How to Care for Helictotrichon 

  • Remove dead leaves and old flowering stems in spring.  
  • Cut back Helictotrichon in early spring.  

Helictotrichon Pests and Diseases 

  • Helictotrichon may develop rust; root rot can be a problem in heavy clay.  
  • Helictotrichon are prone to fungal attack in humid climates.  

Helictotrichon Propagation 

  • Divide Helictotrichon clumps in spring every three years. 
  • Sow seed in contianers in a cold frame in spring.

Helictotrichon Varieties to Grow 

  • Helictotrichon sempervirens, Blue oat grass, densely tufted, evergreen, perennial grass, forming a hemispherical mound of flat or tightly rolled, linear, gray-blue leaves, to 9 inches (23cm) long. In early and midsummer, stiff, upright stems bear glistening, straw-colored, purple-marked spikelets in open panicles, to 7 inches (18cm) long, nodding at the tips. To 4.5 feet (1.4m) tall and 24 inches (60cm) wide. Central and southwestern Europe.  

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