Year-Round Grace and Beauty
Ornamental perennial grasses have a grace and beauty that no other group of plants can match. With fabulous colors, textures and sizes, they make a bold statement of vertical interest. Ornamental perennial grasses persist through winter, providing food and shelter for small mammals and birds. They tolerate a wide range of light and soil conditions, making them generally very easy to grow. Maintaining ornamental perennial grasses is as simple as trimming back old growth to 4” in the spring. Planting by mid-September gives the roots time to secure before winter.
Full Sun Exposure
Drought tolerant and resistant to deer and rabbits, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ is a fountain grass with soft graceful foliage. Fuzzy, pinkish-white flower spikes appear in July and mature to tan. ‘Hameln’ is a popular choice for a neat, compact, low-growing grass.
A native sun-loving grass is Eragrostis spectabilis. Maintaining a short unassuming stature until it blooms in late summer, this purple love grass them becomes a frothy mass of mauve flowers. When temperatures drop, the foliage picks up a red tint. Being salt tolerant, Eragrostis is perfect for a mailbox garden or near a roadside.
Full Sun to Part Shade
Miscanthus are some of the showiest flowering grasses. All are known for their impressive array of colors, patterns and shapes. All are tough and undemanding. Deer and rabbit resistant, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ and ‘Strictus’ will grow 6’-8’tall, making them nice screening plants near utilities or for softening corners. ‘Strictus’ is wet tolerant, making it a great rain garden grass.
Schizachyrium scoparius ‘Twilight Zone’ has blue-green foliage and is also known as Little Bluestem. The foliage shifts to a silvery mauve purple by late July and retains these tones through fall. Growing 4’-5, Little bluestems are good choices for hot, dry and sunny areas.
Part Shade to Full Shade
Chasmanthium latifolium is one of the few grasses that performs well in just about any situation. It is known for its dangling seedheads that look like flattened fish scales that start green, change to soft pink then age to warm golden brown. The plant resembles a clump-forming bamboo and the seedheads are beautiful in dried floral arrangements.
Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ is a sedge, not true grass at all. Sedges are valued for their eye-catching foliage in a shade garden. The leaves and seedheads are important food sources for skippers, moths, native insects and birds.