How to Plant and Grow Blue Fescue

This tough multitasking ornamental grass thrives in a range of conditions.

A truly versatile perennial grass, blue fescue (Festuca glauca) 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 drought tolerant, making it a great choice for rock gardens.

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, so it also works well as an edging plant. If you plan on using these plants in masses, select the same variety to ensure the same color foliage.

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

Where to Plant Blue Fescue

Blue fescue is a small ornamental grass that grows as a perennial in Zones 4-8, where it brings vibrant blue color to garden beds and borders. It doesn't go dormant, so it is suitable anywhere the home gardener wants winter color in all but the most frigid areas. It is drought-tolerant, making it a good choice for home gardeners who live in arid regions.

How and When to Plant Blue Fescue

Plant blue fescue seeds in early spring or late summer but well before freezing temperatures arrive. Loosen the soil and add seed-starting mix. Sprinkle the seeds sparingly on top of the soil mixture and cover only lightly. After they germinate, thin the seedlings to 12 inches apart.

To plant blue fescue plants from a nursery, dig a hole that is as wide as the root ball of the plant. Locate it in a sunny spot with well-draining soil and add a granular slow-release balanced fertilizer before settling the plant in the hole at the same level it was in the container. Keep the soil moist, not wet.

Blue Fescue Care Tips

Keeping these plants happy is a reasonably easy job.


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.

Soil and Water

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.

Temperature and Humidity

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.


When blue fescue plants are surrounded by an organic mulch, such as compost or bark mulch, no additional fertilizer is needed.


Keep the plants looking tidy by deadheading the flower heads and removing dead blades of the grass. In the spring, the plants should be sheared back to a few inches from the ground to allow plenty of room for fresh new foliage to grow.

Pests and Problems

Blue fescue plants can attract aphids. A blast of water can remove a small infestation. Otherwise, treat the plants with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, following the instructions on the label.

How to Propagate Blue Fescue

Unfortunately, blue fescue is a relatively short-lived perennial. You can alleviate this by regularly dividing the plants. Dig them up and cut them into smaller pieces, ensuring that each piece has a good amount of foliage and roots. Division prevents plants from dying out in the middle and looking unsightly.

Blue fescue can also be propagated by seed, but the color and quality of the blue foliage may vary. Researchers have created seedling selections with a more robust, bolder blue color, and these seed selections are available today in commercial blue fescue varieties. Along with color development, researchers are working to create varieties of blue fescue that are more heat tolerant.

Types 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


'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.

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.

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.

Soften a Fence With This Lush Border Garden Plan

garden plan illustration to soften fence
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

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

Drought-Tolerant Garden Plan

garden with fountain
Peter Krumhardt

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

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does blue fescue spread when planted in a garden bed?

    No. Blue fescue plants form attractive clumps that don't spread, and they maintain this form year-round. Occasionally, the plant may die back in the center due to heavy soil or hot temperatures.

  • Do blue fescue plants stay blue all year?

    This cool season grass looks its best in spring and fall. The plants turn a darker blue-green in late fall and maintain this shade in areas with mild winters. In areas with harsh winters, the grass may turn brown, but it remains upright, adding winter interest.

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