Blue-eyed grass thrives on neglect.
This hardy little member of the iris family is common to open moist habitats throughout Florida.
A perennial evergreen, this cheery little plant blooms profusely in the spring and then spends the rest of the year as a clump of thin grass-like leaves.
The blue color of the wild form is stunning. Cultivars are available in white, rose and pink.
Like other irises, blue-eyed grass slowly spreads outwards by forming "pups" off of the main leaf cluster. Mature plants form a clump of foliage 12 to 28 inches across and 6 inches tall. Clusters benefit from periodic division and old plants may develop a “bald spot” in the center.
Since it grows from a kind of bulb called a corm, it can survive periodic drought, but will rot if it remains sodden for too long or is heavily mulched. It is salt tolerant and grows well on barrier islands and coastal gardens.
The little star-shaped flowers rise on stiff stalks which may stand a foot or so above the leaf mass. Individual flowers are open for only about a day, but multiple flowers are produced on the same stalk blooming one after another for several weeks and one stalk can have multiple flowers open at the time. In our area, this plant may bloom for up to six weeks in the early spring.
Blue-eyed grass may be propagated from seed, but it is easier to simply divide a clump using a sharp-edged spade.
Although it prefers moist soils, blue-eyed grass can be grown in most Florida landscape settings.
Use this plant along walkways and the edges of planting bed, plant it in mass or scatter it through a wet land meadow. It is a satisfactory container plant too, but bear in mind the bloom period is shorter than annuals like petunias and marigolds. Grouping blue-eyed grass with other flowering plants can extend the color and the grassy foliage can add an attractive accent and can be cut back to soil level of it becomes shabby.
Blue-eyed grasses were once considered to be a complex group of species and subspecies but most botanists now group native blue-eyed grass in Florida into a single species, Sisyrinchium angustifolia found from Newfoundland and Quebec to southern Florida and west to eastern Texas. Its native habitat is open woods, moist pinelands, fields, meadows, marshes, the edges of swamps and grassy roadsides.