Prairie Dropseed Growing Guide

Sporobolus heterolepis

Prairie Dropseed

Crop Rotation Group



Any well drained soil with a near neutral to slightly alkaline pH.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

Established plants of prairie dropseed are winter hardy to -30°F (-34°C).


None needed.


Single Plants: 1' 11" (60cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 1' 11" (60cm) with 1' 11" (60cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Prairie dropseed can be grown from seeds, but seedlings are very slow growing, needing four years to reach blooming size. For this reason, most gardeners use purchased plugs or small container-grown plants to establish prairie dropseed. Set out plants from late spring to early summer so the plants can enjoy a long first season in the ground. Young plants need water their first year, but after that prairie dropseed fescue becomes very drought tolerant. Should the center of a feature clump start dying out, dig the clump in spring and use a sharp knife or hatchet to cut the healthy parts into several chunks. Replant immediately.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


An important and beautiful grass of the American prairies, dropseed has suffered from habitat loss despite its positive attributes: stunning windblown form and texture, fragrant late summer flowers, and foliage that turns bronze in fall and persists into winter. Several states list prairie dropseed as an endangered species, so growing this grass can be a significant act of environmental restoration. It is a host plant for several butterflies and moths, and wild birds eat the nutritious seeds. In early spring, mow or clip off old growth to make way for new leaves. Although prairie dropseed is slow to establish, it is very long lived and requires no maintenance beyond annual mowing.



Too much water and fertilizer can make prairie dropseed develop problems with root rot. Deer and other animals may browse the foliage in spring.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Prairie Dropseed