Blue-eyed Grass

So, why don't I have Sisyrinchium in my garden? I should. And so should you. There's nothing not to love about it.

Virtually maintenance-and-problem-free, the most beautiful shades of blue or purple or yellow you'll ever see. Depending on the species they want seasonably wet or good-drainage dry; in other words, there is a Sisyrinchium suitable for nearly any garden setting.

Members of the Iris family, these dainty and diminutive plants are like jewels in the garden. Narrow, grassy leaves that stand in a clump to support the flowering stems that carry simple six-petal flowers of the most intense blue to purple to yellow. They form clumps, they self-seed. They, for the most part, need fairly abundant moisture for at least part of the year. That's about it. They will make you happy.

The only down side, is that they tend to sometimes be somewhat short-lived; you may have some and then one year they're gone. A good argument for saving seed or dividing clumps.

There are close to sixty native species of Sisyrinchium in this hemisphere. Here are ours:

sisyrinchium bellum

Sisyrinchium bellum: Blue-eyed Grass

Deciduous. Can grow up to sixteen inches tall, though usually shorter, with miniature, iris-like leaves, and smallish, five-petal blue flowers that appear from mid spring to mid-summer. It prefers full sun and moist to wet conditions, especially in spring. It typically goes summer dormant, and so can take the dry in the summer months as part of its normal cycle. Often confused with >Sisyrinchium angustifolium, which is similar in appearance, but which is an east coast native.

Sisyrinchium californicum 7

Sisyrinchium californicum: Yellow-eyed Grass

This one does well in any wet, sunny spot in the garden. It typically grows on the margins of lakes, bogs and other wet places. This is the Sisyrinchium that requires the most moisture, the wettest place in the garden (one year at the nursery, under the sprinkler system, it self-seeded in the gravel at the base of the tables in the native section!). The flowers are a beautiful, bright, buttery yellow, and will self-seed somewhat aggressively in situations that are moist enough (would that be so bad?).

sisyrinchium douglasii

Sisyrinchium douglasii: Purple-eyed Grass, Grass Widow

This Sisyrinchium is from a different region, and now apparently has a different taxonomy altogether! It can now more commonly found as Olysynium douglasii. I don't quite understand the change in taxonomy, but it is quite different from its brethren. It is still a smallish clumping plant; its leaves are less blade-like, and it tends to grow in drier conditions. The flower is a deep, intense reddish-purple, with larger, rounded petals than the other Sisyrinchium. It also blooms earlier in the spring. Similar, but different.

Find Natives for your garden

We offer a great selection of Northwest Natives from spring through fall. The plants featured are highlighted favorites, but they do not represent ALL of the plants we carry. For a more complete list, see our Northwest Native Plant List.

Natives

Abies: Native Fir

Natives

Acer Circinatum: Vine Maple

Natives

Actaea: Bugbane

Natives

Aquilegia: Columbine

Natives

Arbutus: Pacific Madrone

Natives

Asarum: Wild Ginger

Natives

Asclepias: Milkweed

Natives

Attracting Butterflies

Natives

Camassia: Camas

Natives

Ceanothus: Wild Lilac

Natives

Cornus sericea

Red Twig Dogwood
Natives

Corylus cornuta

Beaked Hazelnut
Natives

Dodecatheon: Shooting Star

Natives

Edible Fruits

Natives

Erigeron: Fleabane

Natives

Eriophyllum: Oregon Sunshine

Natives

Native Ferns

Natives

Fragaria: Wild Strawberry

Natives

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

Natives

Holodiscus: Oceanspray

Natives

Attracting Hummingbirds

Natives

Native Iris

Natives

Lewisia: Bitterroot

Natives

Mahonia: Oregon Grape

Natives

Malus fusca

Western Crabapple
Natives

Osmaronia: Indian Plum

Natives

Penstemon: Beard Tongue

Natives

Philadelphus: Mock Orange

Natives

Physocarpus

Western Ninebark
Natives

Pinus: Native Pine

Natives

Quercus: Garry Oak

Natives

Rhamnus: Cascara

Natives

Ribes: Wild Currant

Natives

Rosa: Wild Rose

Natives

Rubus: Salmonberry

Natives

Sambucus: Elderberry

Natives

Sedum: Stonecrop

Natives

Sidalcea: Checker Mallow

Natives

Sisyrinchium

Blue-eyed Grass
Natives

Solidago: Goldenrod

Natives

Symphoricarpos: Snowberry

Natives

Synthyris: Native Figwort

Natives

Trillium: Wake Robin

Natives

Vaccinium: Huckleberry

Natives

Vancouveria: Inside-out Flower

Natives

Viburnum trilobum

Cranberrybush
Natives

Viola: Violet

Natives

Winter Interest