Ornamental grasses are treasured for their hardiness, ease of care, dramatic appearance, and the wide variety of colors, textures, and sizes available. And, today’s ornamental grasses are worlds apart from what was available a few years ago. There are more varieties to choose from, colorful foliage for season-long interest, and shorter, more compact selections for growing in containers and small spaces. Many varieties bloom all season, not just in fall like warm season perennial grasses. Their color palettes range from green to blue, copper, cream, red, and purple. Size varies by variety, so be sure to research them carefully when designing your combinations. Whether you use them as screens, accents, or focal points, ornamental grasses can play an intrigal part in your garden or landscape. Here are a few of our favorites:
Pampas Grass Ivory Feather - displays long stalks of dramatic, creamy white plumes above a dense cluster of green foliage that blooms from late summer until late fall. This perennial grass is wind and drought tolerant and provides a dazzling windbreak or screen. Foliage reaches 3 to 5 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide, reaching 8 to 10 feet tall with plumes. The flowers are beautiful when used in cut flower arrangements. Ivory Feather prefers full sun locations.
Lymus Blue Dune – a cool-season grass with striking, silver-blue and wheat-colored plumes in summer. Foliage clumps spread by rhizomes, making it ideal for filling in large areas quickly and for erosion control. This grass is heat tolerant and prefers a dry, sunny location. Blue Dune quickly forms clumps 2 feet tall and wide and reaches up to 3 feet tall when in bloom. Plant in partial to full sun.
Muhlenbergia (Muhly Grass) – is a showy, warm season grass with slender leaves and eye-catching reddish-mauve flower plumes that appear in late summer and fall. This grass’s fine-textured and soft green foliage forms a tidy mound and is ideal when planted in mass, as an accent mixed into perennial borders, or as a thriller in containers. Like most ornamental grasses, muhlenbergia is heat and drought tolerant and low maintenance. Plant in full to partial shade.
Pennisetum Hameln – the slim foliage and flowery plumes of this ornamental grass adds unique form to the fall garden. Foliage turns a lovely golden-russet color in autumn, creating bold contrast when used with shrubs or as a backdrop in perennial beds. This tough and waterwise grass is right at home in beds, borders, and on slopes. Hameln is a moderate grower, reaching 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. Prefers full sun locations.
Panicum Cheyenne Sky - boasts dense, upright clumps of blue-green leaves that turn wine-red in early summer. Purple flower panicles appear atop foliage in late summer. Both drought and salt tolerant, this grass is also deer resistant and provides protection for songbirds in winter. This petite grass is ideal in containers and also provides erosion control. Cheyenne Sky reaches 3 to 4 feet tall by 2 feet wide and prefers partial to full sun.