‘Ladybug Red’ is a western form of the wide spread native prairie species, Big Bluestem grass. It has outstanding red fall foliage and is a more compact grower than plants selected from moister, rich soil locations in the Mid-West. It’s also better adapted to the alkaline, mineral soils found west of the Mississippi River.
Plant it in full sun and grow it with regular irrigation to keep the soil moderately moist. Keeping it too dry lessens the intensity of the fall color.
I found the original plant near the little town of La Veta in south-central Colorado while driving home from Denver on a beautiful fall day. Of the many Big Bluestem plants growing along the road’s edge, just one lone plant was bright red, which caught my eye even at 65 miles per hour. When I stopped to dig the plant along the highway shoulder near La Veta, CO, I soon discovered that there was a nest of ladybugs living in the crown of the plant; and out they came in large numbers. That’s how I decided to name it, ‘Ladybug Red’. It’s a nice companion grass for other prairie species like Ratibida, Echinacea, Salvia azurea and Liatris.