Wildflower of the Month - Blue-eyed Grass Sisyrinchium montanum

Posted on July 7th, 2011

Blue-eyed Grass is not a grass at all, but a miniature member of the Iris family. Its pretty star shaped blue flowers only last a day, but new buds open every day and it has a long blooming period through June and the begining of July.
The leaves are definitely grass-like. They are stiff and upright so that the plant looks like a compact clump of grass studded with small blue stars.

This short plant, only 20 to 30 cm tall, would look great in a rock garden or at the edge of a border. It would look good in a drift of 5 or 7 plants, or in combination with other small plants such as Pussy-toes, Early Blue Violet, Three-flowered Avens,
or Slender Blue Beardtongue. It likes a fairly open spot with little competition.

In the wild Blue-eyed Grass prefers a damp spot, but it should do fine with regular garden moisture conditions in your yard. It's not fussy about soil type - I have seen it growing in pure clay, pure sand and just about every soil type in between.
One plant will quickly multiply into a small clump in your yard. It is easily divided in early spring or fall, just dig up the clump, gently tease apart the little plants, and replant them.
Blue-eyed Grass self-seeds, but only occasionally. Unfortunately it won't spread all over your yard.

If you are looking for a challenging plant to grow from seed, Blue-eyed grass will fit the bill. They need a lengthy period of pretreatment before the seeds will germinate.
Here's what to do.

Sow the seeds in a pot in the usual way and keep indoors at room temperature for 8 weeks. Make sure the soil stays moist. Next, put the pot somewhere cold and damp for a further 6 to 8 weeks. If you put the pot in the fridge,
enclose it in a plastic bag and check it every few days to make sure the seedlings haven't started to germinate. If you put the pot outside, put it on the north side of the house and cover it well with snow to keep it insulated and damp.
After the 8 weeks are up, the seeds can be brought back into a warm room to start the germination process,or, if the weather is warm, they can be left outside to germinate naturally.
If you don't want to go to all this trouble, just plant the seeds in the ground in spring, mark them well and keep them watered. They will germinate the following spring, a year later.

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