Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’

This could change your life. You snicker. We’re talking houseplants, after all, not Occupy Wall Street. But doesn’t it really all start at home? And aren’t you sick to death of the same old, same old houseplants. Well, here’s liberation. Here’s where you get garden nostalgia brought inside in the middle of the winter. Folks in Florida — you can stop reading right here.

Why not entertain your favorite outdoor gang inside when you need their company most? Not everything translates, but some plants make the leap indoors without a whimper. For example, how about blue fescue? I thought this was my own little lightbulb. I thought it was my personal secret weapon against the winter blahs. But then James Baggett — innovative gardener par excellence and all-around cobweb-buster — was boasting the other day that he had the world’s best idea for a houseplant. You guessed it. He was hosting ‘Elijah Blue’ in his home also.

Okay, so it doesn’t do much. Don’t expect cartwheels. Frisbee-sized flowers are not in your future. But then, what’s the fescue’s role outside? Swank, sharp tufts of electric blue color to give you a small dose of feel good. And when do we crave feel good desperately, I ask you? Now.

What does it need? Not much. East or west window does it. If you had south, it would be ecstatic. I don’t bother fertilizing it over the winter, but I do give my fescue a deep pot because its drinking habit is along the lines of all other ornamental grasses. Besides thirst, it’s a no-brainer, and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

For this post, I interviewed my Furry Associate on the subject. Einstein had some strong opinions (what else is new?). He has embraced this plant since kittenhood. In a house filled with plants, the purrrfessor has limited access. If he wants to avoid histrionics (that’s my department), he steers clear of most of the greenery. We’ve had words about his begonia-mauling fest. The deal is that the cat grass, the acorus, and the fescue are his territory. No questions asked. So he gets into the fescue. Literally. (ouch) As a result, the Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ usually looks like the hairdresser from hell has been at work. But who doesn’t love a tussled houseplant? As long as it’s not an orchid…
And it’s Einstein to the Fescue!

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12 Responses to Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’

  1. Another great idea. I’m guessing I shouldn’t go out and dig up my dormant Elijah right now, but I’ll make sure to think of this post in the spring when I’m dividing….one will definitely go to a pot.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Around here, we could probably get away with plundering a fescue and squirreling it inside, Prof, but Kansas might be a different story — and I wouldn’t hazard dividing right now. But I know that you’re fully wise to winter’s ways. The ‘Elijah Blue’ (which has been a ‘Boulder Blue’ in previous years) was a moveable potted accent plant last summer that never got into the ground in autumn. Sometimes subtle accents beat the pants off big blooming petunias and the like, don’t you think? And you don’t have to deadhead a fescue…

  2. Wow, Einstein is a handsome cat! You can relay to him my admiration!

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Don’t say that too loud, it’ll go to his furry little head. And think of it = he was originally a beat up little kitten that someone dumped at the shelter with a broken jaw! Just shows you – everyone has star quality.

  3. Lee May says:

    I tellya, Tovah, your (and James’) bold creativity knows no bounds, and that’s a wonderful thing. In addition to trying them myself, I look forward to seeing how you weave these unconventional outdoor-cum-indoor plants into some of your stunning terrariums.

    And, that Einstein – what a lucky fella, living in the paradise you create. Like Gaia, I think he’s a handsome one, annnd, each time I see him, I do a double-take, as he so resembles my dear departed, also once-abandoned Buuud (a Southern gent, as you can tell from the spelling on his name).

    • Tovah Martin says:

      hmmm Lee – I grow acorus, ophiopogon, and carex in terrariums — why not try fescue? More later after I’ve taken your challenge (you, dear friend, are the start of many a foray — I can see that this is leading to numerous odysseys in the future).

      And I love it = I can just see you calling “Buuud” out the back door. Alas, with coyotes out back and cars out front, Einstein is confined to indoors. That seems to be just fine with him — it’s a jungle in here. And he’s king. Me? The servant.

  4. Paula says:

    Tovah, What is it with cats and Begonias? I had to bring my favorite to my office, WendellBerry and Chelsea were shredding it to bits. It recovered thankfully, and bloomed for the first time in 3 years. I am notoriously bad with houseplants, perhaps my calling is workplants? Love the ‘Elighah Blue’ in a pot. Ours are temperamental in the ground…. perhaps I’ll dig them up next spring. Love free plants for pots.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Those cats were working for me, Paula. Part of the initiative to green offices throughout the land. Good to hear that Agent WB and Agent C were carrying out their training.

      Others have bad-mouthed ‘Elijah Blue’ in the ground. Mine is the only good thing about my garden right now. And they’ve withstood some mean freezing and thawing in the last few years. Yours — of course — are just angling for the cushy life in your office. “Skip the frost sequence, lady, just tepid water and keep the cats at bay.”

  5. Maude Odgers says:

    Well, Einstein certainly gets the “King of the Grass” award. I confess, quietly of course, that he is pretty darn charming sitting on his perch of ‘Elijah Blue.’ I was wondering if he eats it. I know it’s not quite the delicacy of green grass, but curious. But what a GREAT idea: grass as a houseplant. You continually inspire me. Thank you! I confess it makes me want another cat and some ‘Elijah Blue’ to go with it.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Hey Maude, I’m not going to pass along your compliments because it will just encourage him. And as you can see — he’s getting a little hefty for grass-balancing acts. Maybe it’s one of those “Plant it and they will come” situations? Seriously, he doesn’t seem to eat the fescue. Shred, yes. Ingest, no. So far, the poor grass seems to bounce back…

  6. Sue Ellen says:

    Never thought of this grass as an indoor plant, but may need to give it a try. It reseeds itself readily here so there would be no harm done to the landscape. I am allergic to cats so it has been quite some time since there has been one indoors, but your description of his love of plants brought laughter to my day.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Just think, Sue Ellen, if you had a fescue in your house — IT MIGHT EVEN STAND UPRIGHT! I mean, when was the last time mine saw 24 hours without its daily smooshing? Every day, it musters the strength to spring up again. Then it’s bashed down. Hope springs eternal, though…Lucky you with a surplus of fescue seedlings on your hands.

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