Photos of Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grasses add a special flare to landscaping!

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CALAMA-GROSTIS x acutiflora
Feather Reed Grass

Sun to light shade. Plumes late summer into Fall. Upright narrow clump with fine texture. Height 2 to 4 feet.

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CAREX oshimensis
'Evergold'
Striped Weeping Sedge

Sun or partial shade. Fine textured ornamental grass. Green margins with creamy yellow center. Height 12 to 18 inches.

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FESTUCA cinerea
Blue Fescue

Sun or partial shade. Good border plant along the front of beds. Height up to 12 inches.


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A reader asks about transplanting ornamental grass...

Q. Is it OK to divide my ornamental grasses now (end of October)?  I am so busy with other gardening chores in spring that I never seem to get around to it, and they are dying out in the center.

A. Most of the ornamental grasses commonly grown in our area are warm season grasses that should be divided and moved only in the spring. The same goes for the native grasses that have become popular in recent years. These include switch grass (Panicum virgatum), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastum nutans).

If you divide and move them in fall, there is a risk of losing them. They are entering winter dormancy, and probably will not have a chance to re-establish their root systems before cold weather shuts down root growth altogether. Another factor is that their energy reserves are low because they have just finished blooming and setting seed. They may not have the vigor to recover if you divide or move them now.


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HAKONECHLOA macra 'Aureola’
Golden-variegated Japanese Forest Grass

Grows in partial shade to full sun. Leaves are bright yellow with green stripes that change to red in the fall. Grows to 16" tall x 18" wide.

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IMPERATA cylindrica
Japanese Blood Grass

Sun to partial shade. Foliage starts out green and becomes a striking red. Height 1 to 2 feet.

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MISCANTHUS sinensis ‘Adagio’
Dwarf Maiden Grass

Grow in full sun. Slightly smaller than regular Maiden Grass. Produces an abundance of narrow tan plumes. Height 4 to 5 feet. One of Bob’s favorites!

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MISCANTHUS sinensis
'Gracillimus'
Maiden Grass

Best grown in full sun. Narrow green leaves with white midrib. Plumes in the Fall. Height 6 to 7 feet.

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MISCANTHUS sinensis 'Morning Light'
Morning Light Maiden Grass

This green-white variegated variety of Miscanthus has a narrower leaf and tighter growing habit than the 'Variegatus' variety shown below. Height 4 to 5 ft.

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MISCANTHUS sinensis
'Variegatus'
Variegated Maiden Grass

Prefers full sun. Green and white leaf variegation.
Plumes in the Fall. Height 5 to 6 ft. This grass will widen and sometimes flop over toward the end of the season, so considering tying it with string to act as a 'belt.' This grass should be divided (split in half) every few years.


Ornamental grass clumps should be cut back in early winter or early Spring to remove brown foliage. If left on through the winter, brown foliage can break-off and become messy, making early winter Bob’s preferred time for cutting them back. Here we see the start of spring growth.

Ornamental grass clumps should be cut back in early winter or early Spring to remove brown foliage. If left on through the winter, brown foliage can break-off and become messy, making early winter Bob’s preferred time for cutting them back. Here we see the start of spring growth.


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MISCANTHUS sinensis 'Zebrinus'
Zebra Grass

Sun to partial shade. Prefers moist soil. Wide green leaves with yellow stripes or bands. Height 5 to 8 feet.

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MISCANTHUS transmorrisonensi
Taiwanese miscanthus

Plant in full sun. Height 3 to 4 feet. Plumes appear mid-summer and grow high above the foliage.

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PANICUM virgatum 'Shenandoah'
Switch Grass

Sun to partial shade. Open reddish purple panicles appear late summer into fall. There are several cultivars or varieties.
Height 4 to 6 feet.

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PENNISETUM alopecuroides
Fountain Grass

Sun to partial shade. Dense growing grass with cylindrical plumes mid-summer into Fall. Height 2 to 4 feet.

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PENNISETUM alopecuroides
'Hamelin'

Dwarf Fountain Grass

Plant in full sun. Compact growing grass. Plumes appear late summer into Fall. Height 2 to 3 feet.

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PENNISETUM setaceum 'Fireworks'
Fireworks Fountain Grass

Striking white, green, pink and burgundy variegated foliage with purple plumes in summer. Grow in full to partial sun, growth to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, hardiness zones 9 to 11.

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PENNISETUM setaceum
Purple Fountain Grass

Not winter hardy in the Northeastern and Midwest US. Prefers full sun. Striking purple leaves. Purplish-pink plumes appear from mid-summer until frost. Height 3 to 4 feet.


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A reader asks about the hardiness of Red Fountain Grass...

Q. I really like Red Fountain Grass but hate purchasing it every year. I've never seemed to be successful getting the seeds I save from my plants to grow the next year. Is there something I should be doing differently?

A. Red fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) is propagated by division rather than from seed. That explains why it is more expensive than many other annuals. Red fountain grass typically sets sterile seed, which is why you have not had any luck getting it to grow. You can dig your plants up in the fall and pot them up in large containers, to try to overwinter them indoors. An unheated attached garage or crawl space where the temperature does not fall below about 40 degrees would be ideal. Cut them back and water them thoroughly before putting them in for the winter. Leave them alone until late April. Then you can pull them out and divide the clumps if needed. Pot the divisions up to get them growing before putting them back in the garden after danger of severe frost has passed.


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PHALARIS arundinaera
Ribbon Grass

Grow in partial shade. Variegated leaves. Can become invasive. Height 2 to 3 feet.

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SACCHARUM ravennae
Ravenna grass

Plant in full sun. Also called 'Hardy Pampas Grass.' Tall upright plumes form in late summer. Height 12 to 14 feet.