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TREES & plants

Blue fescue

A group of blue fescue.

Blue fescue is a small, mounded, cool season grass grown for its compact size and blue foliage.  It is a non-native, clumping grass.  The blue coloration can vary, so it is best to buy named cultvars for uniformity of color. Is known by several other botanical names, including Festuca ovina var. glauca, Festuca ovina 'Glauca', and Festuca cinerea.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name: 
Festuca glauca
All Common Names: 
Blue fescue
Family (English): 
Grass
Family (Botanic): 
Poaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Grass, 
  • Ground cover, 
  • Perennial
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Container, 
  • Foundation, 
  • Massing, 
  • Mixed border, 
  • Patio/sidewalk
Size Range: 
  • Small plant (6-12 inches)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), 
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Late winter, 
  • Early spring, 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Other
Shape or Form: 
  • Mounded
More Information: 

Size and Form

Blue fescue is a small, mounded grass growing 6 to 10 inches tall.  When in flower, it may be 15 to 18 inches tall.  Becaus of the neat, mounded shape, these plants can be planted close together and used as a ground cover.

Plant Care

Blue fescue prefers a cool, moist environment and full sun.  In hot areas, put this grass where it can get some shade at mid-day.  Plants may slow their growth or go almost dormant in hot summers.
This grass is easy to grow from seed, but the color of seedlings will vary from green to very blue.  Buy named cultivars if uniformity of color is needed.

This is a cool season grass, so its most active growth occurs in spring and fall.  It will be semi-evergreen in winter and can act as winter interest.

Since this grass remains semi-evergreen through winter, it should not be cut back until early spring, before new growth begins.  At that time, it can be cut down to the ground if needed or simply trimmed to remove winter damage.

Disease, pests, and problems

No serious pest problems.
Seed stalks may detract from the appearance of the neat blue mounds, so consider pruning the seed stalks off.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe.

Leaf description

Leaves are blue green, but may vary in color from plant to plant.  The very narrow leaves will grow 6 to 8 inches long.  They remain green in winter.

Flower description

Tiny green flowers are held above the foliage in small clusters on long stems.  The flowers add very little interest to the plant.  Flowers are wind pollinated.

Fruit description

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) are held in the small clusters that held the flowers.  As the fruit mature, they will turn brown.

Cultivars and their differences

Blaufink (Bluefinch) (Festuca glauca 'Blaufink'):  A compact cultivar (6 to 8 inches) with a finer texture.

Blauglut (Blue Glow) (Festuca glauca 'Blauglut'): Silver-blue foliage.

Blausilber (Blue-silver)  (Festuca glauca 'Blausilber'): Silver-blue foliage; 8 inches tall.

Boulder Blue  (Festuca glauca 'Boulder Blue'):  silver-blue, more upright and more drought tolerant.

Elijah Blue (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'):  Powder blue color; 8 inches tall.

Frühlingsblau (Spring Blue): (Festuca glauca 'Frühlingsblau'): Light blue, 6 inches tall.

Golden Toupee (Festuca glauca 'Golden Toupee'):  Leaves are chartreuse instead of blue green.

Meerblau (Sea Blue)  (Festuca glauca 'Meerblau'):  Blue green.

Solling  (Festuca glauca 'Solling'):  No flowers produced.

Festuca glauca or Blue fescue