FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Sisyrinchium angustifolium is a low rhizomatous wildflower. Plants form tufted clumps of narrow sword shaped leaves. Starry blue-violet flowers rise above the leaves to a height of 18” or so. This diminutive beauty prospers in sunny or lightly shaded gardens with moist to wet soils.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Sisyrinchium angustifolium ranges through eastern Canada and from Maine to Florida and west to Minnesota, Kansas and Texas.
This species is indigenous to floodplain forests, sandy thickets, woodland clearings and borders, river banks, moist meadows, fields, roadsides, moist to mesic prairies and moist oak savannas. Sisyrinchium angustifolium generally grows in grassy areas even naturalizing in lawns. Plants are often crowded out if aggressive broadleaf weeds are present.
Hardiness rating extends from USDA Zones 4-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Sisyrinchium angustifolium forms attractive upright rosettes of narrow iris-like foliage.
The linear leaves are pointed with parallel veins and are up to 12” long and ¼” wide. The leaves are arranged in overlapping fans like those of iris.
Flattened flower stalks arise from the leafy tufts. Each branched stem terminates in umbels of starry blue violet florets that emerge from leaf-like bracts,
The ½” florets have 3 pointed petals and 3 identical but slightly wider sepals. These tepals are arranged in a ring around a golden-yellow center. Dark violet nectar guides radiate from the flower’s center.
Blooming begins in late spring or early summer and continues for about a month. Rounded capsules form and the small black seed inside are distributed short distances by wind.
Plants rise from coarse fibrous roots or rhizomes to 12-18” height and 6-12” spread. This short lived perennial perpetuates itself by reseeding.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Sisyrinchium angustifolium grows best in sunny moist sites with humus rich slightly acid well drained soil. Plants tolerate part shade, some drought, slightly alkaline pH and sandy, loamy or clay soils.
Plants are pest resistant and somewhat unpalatable to herbivores.
In garden situations, this short lived perennial can be divided every 2-3 years to promote vigor and increase life span.
Thick mulch layers should be avoided as this can cause crown rot. If seedlings are a problem, shear plants back after flowering to remove developing seed capsules.
LANDSCAPE USES: This is a good choice as a Groundcover, Mass or Edging for a Cottage Garden or Perennial Border. Sisyrinchium angustifolium has Showy Blooms and Attractive Foliage. It can be naturalized in Lawns or utilized in Meadow Gardens, Rock Gardens, Low Maintenance Plantings, open Shade Gardens and Wildlife Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Sisyrinchium angustifolium with Anemone canadensis, Aster laevis, Gelsemium sempervirens 'Margarita', Penstemon digitalis, Ruellia humilis, Solidago odora, Bouteloua curtipendula or Sorghastrum nutans.
Sisyrinchium angustifolium ‘Lucerne’ is a slightly smaller more floriferous version of the species that can be substituted in some garden situations.
TRIVIA: Halictine bees, Bumblebees, other native bees and pollinating flies seek nectar and pollen from the flowers. Seeds are eaten by various birds.
This grass-like plant is actually a member of the Iris Family.
Sisyrinchium angustifolium is the most common blue-eyed grass in the eastern United States. Compared to other Sisyrinchium spp., this species has broader leaves, secondary branched flower stalks, consistent blue-purple flowers, one bract per inflorescence and greater tolerance to brightly shaded woodlands.
For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SIAN3