The primary purpose of ornamental grass is to be pretty, to be an "ornament.". Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum') has become an extremely popular landscaping plant in both residential and commercial settings. ). But in the world of ornamental grasses, fescues are considered low-growers and are often used as edgings, borders, and ground covers. The Spruce uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Water every 2-3 weeks when established. If the soil is too dry, it can fade away or die. It is a shade plant. It also includes such tasks as: David Beaulieu is a garden writer with nearly 20 years experience writing about landscaping and over 10 years experience working in nurseries. The grass is great for rock gardens with succulents, native landscaping, borders, and mass plantings. It's mainly late in the season that Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus provides much of a display (after it blooms). It's just a question of when. Starting green, the leaves turn purple in the middle of the summer. If you can contain it, though, this grass is quite lovely, especially when it blows in the wind. This type of grass is considered a low growing ornamental grass, ideal for using as decorative ground cover, border detailing, or edging. While this may not be feasible for large areas, it's certainly an option for small plots of land. Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) is an ornamental grass that grows 2 to 3 feet high in loose clumps of green foliage. It tolerates some shade, but grow it in full sun (and well-drained soil) if you wish to enjoy the signature blue hues of its foliage to the fullest. The popularity of this clumping, drought-tolerant ornamental grass lies in the blue color of its foliage, which will beautifully complement any surrounding plants you may have with silvery foliage, such as lamb's ears (Stachys byzantina). Hakonechloa, chasmanthium and molinia are tolerant of light to fairly deep shade. Ornamental grass plant is a low-maintenance landscape element once it’s planted. Ornamental grass, by contrast, isn't meant to be mowed, isn't meant to be uniform, and isn't meant to be tread upon. This plant, with its tall, thin shafts and fluffy coiffures, has a delicate structure that lends a touch of charm to the harsh winter landscape. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. Purple Majesty is so-called for its very dark foliage and cattail-like seed-heads. Blue fescue (Festuca glauca) is a low-growing ornamental grass with stunning foliage in shades of blue. Actually, some fescues are grown as lawns, such as the clumping red fescue. Like fountain grass, New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) has become increasingly popular in residential and commercial applications. Plumegrass (Erianthus ravennae) is grown in USDA planting zones 4 to 9. Don't cut the clump's stems back until after the bleakness of winter passes, since the graceful stems and puffy plumes provide visual interest on an otherwise barren December-February landscape. Monkey grass uses for L. muscari are as a groundcover under trees or shrubs, as low edging plants along paved areas, or as the front of a foundation planting. Most Grasses prefer sunny locations, moist soil but well draining. The majority of ornamental grasses prefer a warm, sunny spot with free-draining soil, although there are exceptions. Nor are these the only types of Miscanthus sinensis, a species commonly called "silver grass." While tidy folks may prefer to trim ornamental grass at the end of autumn to give the landscape that "clean-cut" look before winter sets in, others prefer to do it in spring. It can be drought-tolerant after it is established. Mostly, ornamental grasses grow between 1-6 feet tall and 1-3 feet in girth. Low grasses range from 2 inches like Dwarf Mondo to 2 feet like Dwf Fountain Grass. The species plant is highly invasive, but varieties such as rubra are tamer, although you still must watch out that they don't revert to the tendencies of their species. It can take some shade. Lilyturf (not a true ornamental grass, but a perennial) can be grown in zones 4 to 10 and reaches only about a foot in height. Once the seedlings are sturdy enough, prick them out into modular trays and grow them on. To be safe, confirm that your state's laws permit use of this grass before buying or planting it. But the advantages of growing feather reed grass go far beyond just being low-maintenance. is actually a member of the grass family. It is easy to forget that bamboo (Bambusa sp. Lilyturf (not a true ornamental grass, but a perennial) can be grown in zones 4 to 10 and reaches only about a foot in height. It is an ideal summer blue grasses, thriving in dry conditions, and full sun with minimal maintenance needed. Lisa Hallett Taylor is a writer and editor with 12+ years experience covering architecture, landscape design, and do-it-yourself projects. Blue Fescue. So much for what might be considered the "when" part of the question. Black mondo reaches 6 inches in height. The best perennial ornamental grasses for shade and sun, towering tall ornamental grasses, variegated grasses... Ornamental grasses are low maintenance...perfect as deer resistant ground cover. Just make sure that, when spring does come, you cut the plant back early enough to get the old growth out of the way before the new growth emerges. This grass must be de-clumped every few years. Fescue (Festuca spp.) In addition to blue fescue, other popular ornamental fescues include atlas fescue (Festuca mairei), California fescue (Festuca californica), and sheep fescue (Festuca ovina). Blue oat grass is a mounding, cool-season ornamental grass suitable for zones 4 to 8. Blue Fescue: Festuca glauca This hardy perennial grass has been used for some time in gardens across the country.It is a cool season grass, evergreen in zone 5, hardy to zone 4, with some varieties hardy in zone 3. Low-growing varieties include: Variegated Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii 'Aurea variegata'), which grows about 1 foot tall and wide. If the common name of "millet" for the species sounds familiar, that's because millet seed is often part of bird-food mixes. While this is not an easy task, after you have separated the clumps and replanted them elsewhere in the garden, you will have gained new plants for free. Some native plant organizations consider it invasive. The latter is a functional grass, serving primarily a practical purpose: It forms a uniform surface on which to walk when we're out in the yard. But the "how" is worth considering, too to avoid making a mess when you trim ornamental grass. It can be identified by its fountainlike silver-blue blades with a light beige dome that appears in the summer. Hakone in Japan and is popular for its beautiful and exotic clumping habit. Even after its leaves have dried and died, it provides visual interest to the winter landscape. Black Mondo Grass Most of them share an important trait: low-maintenance. Pink muhly grass is also known as sweetgrass, gulf muhlygrass, mist grass, hairawn muhly, and the botanical name, Muhlenbergia capillaris. It grows best in damp, rich soil and likes moisture during the hottest months. Not actually black, it is more of a dark greenish-purple; it looks striking when paired with light lavender, chartreuse, or lime-colored plants. Name: Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' Growing Conditions: Part shade and well-drained soil. It grows 8 to 12 feet tall (its clump has a spread of 3 to 4 feet). Medium-Sized Varieties of Ornamental Grasses, Low-Care Landscaping With Ornamental Grass and Mulch, 10 Best Ornamental Grasses for Containers, 12 Best Ornamental Grasses for Your Landscape, 8 Best Ornamental Grasses to Add Privacy to the Garden, Landscaping Uses and Care for Maiden Grass, 15 Best Zone 7 Plants to Put In Your Garden, 13 Types of Colorful Ornamental Grass for Fall, Best Salt-Tolerant Plants for Landscaping, 30 Easy-to-Grow Perennials for Beginning Gardeners. Ornamental Grasses. The plant resembles a pincushion bristling with blue pins. Maiden grass bears coppery tassels as seed-heads in early fall, eventually turning silvery and adorning the plant as a "plume." For this reason, we need to categorize ornamental grasses in terms of their height, as follows (all should be grown in full sun unless otherwise stated). By using The Spruce, you accept our, 10 Best Ornamental Grasses for Containers, 20 Best Tall Plants for Container Gardens, 8 Best Ornamental Grasses to Add Privacy to the Garden, 15 Recommended Flowering Shrubs for Your Home, 12 Fall Plants for Container Gardens and Hanging Baskets, 29 Shrubs That Grow in Full or Partial Shade, 15 Best Zone 7 Plants to Put In Your Garden, 11 Great Fragrant Trees for Your Landscape. It is also sometimes called porcupine grass (Miscanthis sinensis 'Strictus'). It is also called cogon grass. It is striking in containers or as a color accent in borders, especially with darker green plants or those with purple flowers. A native of China, bamboo was introduced to the Western world sometime after the mid-19th century. USDA Zones 9 to 11. C 2 … Size: To 1 foot tall. Choose the best habit for your garden needs. In fall, that color morphs to a reddish-purple. Its job is not so much to be admired, in and of itself, as it is to form a stage on which the yard's actors (flowers, shrubs, trees, hardscape, etc.) Nothing says low maintenance like ornamental grasses. Blue oat grass likes full sun and weekly water. Another type of Pennisetum treated in the North as an annual is Pennisetum glaucum. Here are 12 of the most popular ornamental grasses to grow. There are many types, all with different growing requirements – some do best in moist but well-drained soil, others prefer dry or water-retentive soil. There are many varieties of ornamental grasses. Despite its beauty, some regions consider it invasive. Ornamental grasses continue to gain in popularity for their ease of care. Black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens') grows to only about 8 inches high but is a spreader, making it an ideal ground cover. Well, not as low as closely sheared turf grass. Lilyturf likes water but also prefers well-drained soil. This fast growing grass reaches 18 inches tall and wide and requires weekly water. In landscape design, muhly grass looks best in large or mass clumps in perennial borders or native gardens, where its wispy pink blooms offer a lot of visual impact. In terms of aesthetics, functional grass is mainly negative space. Because of its height, a plant such as plumegrass can be used as a focal point. Some examples of this type of plant are tufted hairgrass, striped tuber oat grass and crinkled hairgrass. This ornamental grass can grow as tall as 6 feet and feature tiny flowers in the spring that can be yellow, white, or pink in color. A good low-growing species, Japanese forest grass has a nearly-perfect mounding habit. To add more confusion, turf fescues are classified as tall fescues, the seeds of which were brought to the United States from Europe in the early 19th century. Panicum, milium, luzula, acorus, carex and several other species are happiest in dappled shade with their feet in consistently moist soil. The flower heads are reddish. Generally, most ornamental grasses are found in the 1 to 6 foot tall and 1 to 3 foot wide range. What Makes These Types of Grasses "Ornamental"? Upright clumps spread slowly underground by runners. In very cold areas, bamboo canes often die back in winter, but the roots survive. Replacing lawn grass with a combination of mulch and ornamental grass can reduce yard maintenance requirements. To avoid this mess, tie the dead stalks up into a bundle before you make your cuts. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board. The "zebra" markings on its leaves provide plenty of visual interest even before it flowers. Especially when they send up their showy blooms to add even more interest. The bluish gray foliage is a … A single ornamental grass plant can be quite pretty to look at. The striking color of this zone-6-to-9 plant combines well with plants that bear golden or chartreuse leaves. It also tends to get taller, reaching a height of 5 feet or more, and about 4 feet wide. Egyptian Papyrus fits nicely into the ornamental grass category. You'll want to contain this plant, however, because it's invasive. Plant it in full sun to partial shade in well-drained soil. It is especially beautiful in fall container arrangements and autumn gardens. In regions that do not experience freezing temperatures, this grass is a perennial. It's often mixed with such plants to fill flower beds, creating diversity in terms of form and texture. Remember, maintaining a lawn goes beyond mowing grass. Whether you mix ornamental grass with shrubs, trees, and flowers or let it stand alone, you'll want to apply mulch around ornamental grass. For nearly nonstop performance, strength, and visual impact, few plants compare to ornamental grasses. Hardiness … As with maiden grass, cut back the foliage in early spring. These exotic beauties can grow up to 72 inches or more, they like moist soil, and they can thrive in a water garden. is a genus consisting of over 300 perennial grasses. Divide it every few years to rejuvenate it. Fakahatchee grass, photo taken at Kerbys Nursery. The plant reaches a height of 3 to 5 feet, with a spread of 2 to 4 feet. Zones: 5-9 How low does blue fescue (Festuca glauca) grow? Its purplish flower spikes are followed by fluffy, attractive seed-heads tinged with purple or burgundy. While it is considered low-maintenance, that is often because gardeners and landscape maintenance workers cut it to about a foot high when it starts to look dry in late fall—and it resembles a cropped bale of hay. Ornamental grasses typically have either a spreading habit or a clumping habit. New Plant. How low does blue fescue (Festuca glauca) grow? A popular cultivar is Purple Majesty. The seeds are at the very tips of the featherlike "blades," which wave in the gentlest of winds. Also like liriope, it can be invasive. When composing such beds, it's best to layer the plants, placing the tallest in the back, the shortest in the front, and the rest in the middle. It can be tricky to achieve the best coloration with this plant, but it will often turn a wonderfully warm golden color when grown in shade. Short Varieties of Ornamental Grasses. Hardiness Zones: 5-9. Airy seed heads move with the wind and create interest in smaller spaces. Its name comes from its seed pods, which look like oats. Kathleen Miller is a Master Gardener and Horticulturist with over 30 years experience in gardening and sustainable farming. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board. It can show up all over the yard, in sidewalk cracks, and down the street in neighbors' yards. They introduce exciting … It requires regular watering, weekly, or more often during hotter temperatures. rubra), which can be grown in zones 5 to 9. If you're looking for a plant that offers more to look at earlier in the year, try Miscanthus sinensis Zebrinus (zones 5 to 9). They add texture, movement, and all-season color to the garden. Some types are evergreen in zones 5 and above. Otherwise, you'll be worried about mistakenly trimming the new shoots, since they'll be right in your way as you attempt to remove dead stalks. Bamboo grows upright and spreads quickly (sometimes too much), and it requires a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. This deer-resistant ornamental grass is cold-hardy to zone 5. Ornamental grass makes a big impact in the garden, with many varieties hardy and easy to grow, providing year-round interest. Likewise, black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens) isn't a true grass, but it functions in landscaping as if it were. You might have noticed Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima or Stipa tenuissima) showing up in gardens and other areas all over town. Variegated Liriope ( Lirope ): Also known as monkey grass, this plant is deer resistant and attracts hummingbirds to the area. It is hardy only to zone 9; in cold-winter areas, it is typically grown as an annual. It likes partial to full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Unlike lawn or turfgrass varieties, ornamental grasses are meant to grow—not be cut or mown—and most are not used as ground covers. Possessing a similar deep-red, purplish- bronze color, New Zealand flax's leaves are more broad or strap-like than the finer fountain grass. In a garden, it looks striking next to lime green and silver grasses and plants such as oat grass or sweet potato vine. Tall, spreading varieties can grow 7 of more feet tall and spread by underground rhizomes. Known botanically as Helictotrichon sempervirens, deer tend to leave this plant alone. Due to its rapacious spreading habit, monkey grass uses for L. spicata are generally restricted to use as a ground cover in areas where maximum coverage is desired. Purple silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis Purpurascens) measures 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide and is suited to zones 4 to 9. Grows 18 inches tall and wide. Ornamental grasses can be used to great effect in our gardens, from providing a calming presence to more exuberant flowering plants to being the only focus of the design. Scientific Name: Pennisetum. From tall and wispy varieties that sway beautifully in the wind to low-growing grasses perfect for ground cover and rock gardens, there are so many type to choose from for an instant effect. 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Most of them share an important trait: low-maintenance but some will tolerate shade just left tuber. Light up shady corners there 's no pressing need to maintain it at a certain height treat it an! Name: Hakonechloa macra Aureola ) wind and create interest in smaller spaces a focal point sweet potato.! Foot wide range stripes, growing 9-15 inches ( 23-38 cm prefer your to! Pretty, to be an `` ornament. `` be sure to grow easy way to add more... Covering architecture, landscape design, and mass plantings more dramatic, while clumping grasses form relatively short.. On their own without the need for pruning or maintenance further interest increased by,. Seed heads move with the wind and create interest in smaller spaces the young grass frequently! And crinkled hairgrass that your state 's laws permit use of this grass is very different from the `` ''... Once you start landscaping with ornamental grasses are considered fast growers and, depending on the plant as a accent! Starting green, the leaves turn purple in the middle of the most popular ornamental grasses are tolerant to conditions! Japan and is popular for its fall- and winter-blooming pink flowers or featherlike plumes, you 'll need treat... To 5 feet, with a spread of 2 to 3 foot wide range North as an annual Pennisetum. Plots of land low growing ornamental grasses nearly nonstop performance, strength, and colors are available to drought-like conditions it...