Blue Fescue

This tough multi-tasking ornamental grass will thrive in a range of conditions.

A truly versatile perennial grass, blue fescue has an eye-catching blue hue that lasts all year. With its clump-forming habit, blue fescue forms uniform balls of foliage topped with feathery straw bloom stalks in the summer. It can be used as an accent plant, in mass plantings, containers, and crevices. Blue fescue is also very drought tolerant, making it a great choice for rock gardens.

Blue Fescue Overview

Genus Name Festuca glauca
Common Name Blue Fescue
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 6 to 18 inches
Flower Color Green
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Attracts Birds, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover

Colorful Combinations

With its compact habit and blue foliage, blue fescue works well in many settings. The classic blue color of the foliage accents most colors and makes a calming statement in a mass planting. Blue fescue's uniform habit adds texture and color when used in mixed containers. It stays in bounds, not spreading very quickly, so it also works well as an edging plant. If you plan on using these plants in masses, select the same variety to ensure same-color foliage.

Blue Fescue Care Must-Knows

Thanks to its drought tolerance, blue fescue works well in rock gardens in average garden soil. Ideally, these plants like well-drained and evenly moist soils for their blue color, so plant accordingly and water consistently. They also appreciate supplemental watering while establishing themselves.

Planting blue fescue in full sun will help the plant achieve its distinctive bright blue color. In partial sun, leaves tend to be more on the green side. It's important to remember that blue fescue is a cool-season grass; in warmer climates, there's a chance that plants will die back and go dormant through the heat of the summer. If they do, you can cut the foliage back and wait. Blue fescue does most of its growing in the spring and fall, so once the weather starts to cool off again, the plant will develop bright, new growth. You can put the plants in part sun in warmer climates to keep them cooler and prevent summer dormancy.

Keeping these plants happy is a reasonably easy job. In climates where blue fescue is evergreen, you don't need to cut them back in the spring. Everywhere else, the plants should be sheared back to a few inches from the ground to allow plenty of room for fresh new foliage to grow. Unfortunately, blue fescue can be a fairly short-lived perennial. You can alleviate this by regularly dividing plants. Dig them up and cut them into smaller pieces, ensuring they have a good amount of foliage and roots. Dividing prevents plants from dying out in the middle and looking unsightly.

New Innovations

Because blue fescue is propagated by seed, the quality of the blue foliage is often inconsistent. As time has passed, researchers have created seedling selections with a more robust, bolder blue color. These seed selections are what you see today in commercial blue fescue varieties. Along with color development, researchers are working to create varieties of blue fescue that are more heat tolerant.

More Varieties of Blue Fescue

'Elijah Blue' blue fescue

'Elijah Blue' blue fescue
Peter Krumhardt

Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue' forms a compact 8- to 10-inch-tall tuft of fine bluish-green leaves. Zones 4-8

'Sea Urchin' blue fescue

'Sea Urchin' blue fescue
Marty Baldwin

Festuca glauca 'Sea Urchin' is also sometimes listed by its official name 'Seeigel'. It forms a dense 10-inch-tall mound. Zones 4-8

Blue Fescue Companion Plants

Dianthus

'Firewitch' dianthus
Denny Schrock

The quintessential cottage flower, Dianthus, also called pinks, is treasured for its grasslike blue-green foliage and abundant starry flowers, which are often spicily fragrant. Depending on the type of pink, flowers appear in spring or summer and tend to be pink, red, white, rose, or lavender—nearly all shades except true blue. Plants range from tiny creeping groundcovers to 30-inch-tall cut flowers, which are a favorite with florists. Foliage is blue-green.

Blanket Flower

Blanket flowers
Denny Schrock

Blanket flowers are wonderfully cheerful, long-blooming plants for hot, sunny gardens. They produce single or double daisy flowers through most of the summer and well into fall. The light brick red flowers are tipped with yellow. Blanket flowers tolerate light frost, and deer rarely eat them. Deadhead the flowers to keep them blooming consistently through the summer and fall. Some species tend to be short-lived, especially if the soil is not well-drained.

Shrub Rose

Shrub rose
Justin Hancock

Shrub roses take the best of the hardiest rose species and combine those traits with modern repeat blooming and diverse flower forms, colors, and fragrances. Some shrub roses may grow tall with vigorous, far-reaching canes; others stay compact. Recent rose breeding has focused on developing hardier shrub roses for landscaping that needs little to no maintenance.

Garden Plans for Blue Fescue

Design for a Moon Garden

Moon Garden Plan Illustration
Illustration by Gill Tomblin

Nighttime is the right time to enjoy a garden of bright whites, fragrant blooms, and a comfortable seat.

Download this garden plan now!

Butterfly Garden Plan

Beautiful Butterflies Garden Plan illustration
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Create a lush island butterfly garden bed of flowers that will bring beautiful fluttering insects to your garden.

Click here to get this free plan.

Soften a Fence With This Lush Border Garden Plan

garden plan illustration to soften fence
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

he exciting plants in this design will provide long-lasting color, fragrance, and texture that will leave you saying, "What fence?"

Get this garden plan now!

Drought-Tolerant Garden Plan

garden with fountain
Peter Krumhardt

This informal mixed garden bed features drought-tolerant trees, evergreen shrubs, perennials, and annuals.

Download this garden plan.

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