Dictionary of Flowers: Festuca Glauca (Blue Fescue)

Festuca Glauca (Blue Fescue) on the left. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Distant Hill Gardens and Flickr

Festuca Glauca (Blue Fescue) on the left. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Distant Hill Gardens and Flickr

  • Festuca Glauca
  • Common name: blue fescue
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Category: perennial in USDA zones 4-8
  • Height: 12” 
  • Width: 12” 
  • Sun
  • Blooms: ornamental grass, grown for foliage
  • Growth habit: clump forming. Used as filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: average, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers. Tolerates drought
  • Garden uses: containers, front of the mixed border, groundcover, edging
  • Diseases: disease resistant
  • Pests: pest resistant

Beautiful blue green foliage and a nice compact growth habit makes blue fescue a popular ornamental grass to grow in the garden.

It is native to many warm regions of the Europe.

It's a fast grower that doesn't require much care to thrive.

Blue fescue has narrow, stiff blades that form neat mounds. It mixes well with other plants in the garden with similar needs.

Blue fescue prefers average soil that drains well. It tolerates rocky or sandy soil. It grows in full sun to part sun positions.

The color intensifies if planted in full sun. In most areas, it stays green during winter months. In early spring, cut blue fescue down to three or four inches and top dress with compost. It doesn't require any further fertilizing.

When it blooms, the flowers are quite insignificant and are normally removed to avoid self seeding. They appear on on stalks above the blades.

During summer months, blue fescue will have to be watered if there is no available rainfall. 

Division is needed every three to four years in spring, as the mounds tend to start dying in the center. Dig out the entire clump and cut in quarters, removing center section. Replant divisions either in pots or straight on the ground. 

Blue Fescue running wild. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Jennifer de Graaf and Flickr

Blue Fescue running wild. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Jennifer de Graaf and Flickr

Festuca can be purchased in nurseries. It can also be easily grown from seed indoors or outdoors.

If sowing indoors, plant in moist starting mix or peat pellets in early spring. Kept at 70F, it germinates in two weeks. The seedlings need to be thinned and potted up until they are ready to go in their permanent spot outdoors.

If sowing outdoors, plant seed on raked soil about one quarter inch deep after danger or frost has passed. Germination is slower when planting outdoors. It can also be winter sown in late winter or early spring.




Morning dew on Fescue. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Klaxton Photo and Flickr

Morning dew on Fescue. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Klaxton Photo and Flickr

Though not prone to disease or pest problems, rabbits love blue fescue. 

Popular varieties:

  • Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue' - dwarf variety, six to ten inches tall
  • Festuca glauca 'Boulder Blue' - grows to about a foot, excellent steely blue color
  • Festuca glauca 'Golden Toupee' - a bright yellow green variety, turns greener in summer. Grows up to twenty inches
  • Festuca glauca 'Sea Urchin' - dwarf variety, up to eight inches. Compact, lovely blue green
  • Festuca glauca 'Festina' - blue green blades remain evergreen during winter. Eighteen inches tall, dense mounds
Close-up of Festuca Glauca. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Daryl Mitchell and Flickr

Close-up of Festuca Glauca. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Daryl Mitchell and Flickr

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