Adding ornamental grasses can be a terrific way to beautify a lawn or garden. They can introduce a variety of colors into a garden as well; most of us think of grass as green, but ornamental grasses can also be blue, brown, cream, pink, red, or multi-colored.
There are dozens of popular varieties of ornamental grasses, far too many to list here. Most ornamental grasses are perennials, growing from their rootstock every spring, and going dormant in the fall or winter. A few are annuals, or, like bamboo, are evergreen.
Here are ten particularly appealing choices:
1. Elijah Blue Fescue
This narrow, 6 to 12 inch tall perennial has a subtle, silvery blue color. Often used for flower borders and containers, it prefers well-drained soil, and full or nearly full sunlight.
2. Evergold Sedge
A popular choice for rock gardens and edging, this evergreen grows up to 8 to 12 inches tall and bears leathery leaves with a cream colored vertical stripe in the center. It grows best in moist, rich soil and partial sun.
3. Fountain Bamboo
Often growing to heights of 8 to 10 feet, and occasionally even 12 in warmer climates, this dark gray to black bamboo has culm sheaths with an orange stripe. It is best placed at the back of your garden in protected areas.
4. Heavy Metal
A variety of blue switch grass, this ornamental grass has a metallic blue foliage, with tips that turn red in the fall. In the full sun it should reach 5 to 6 feet in height.
5. Japanese Blood Grass
This perennial is a clumping grass that bears leaves with a top half that is a striking blood red. It can grow in full or partial sunlight, and needs plenty of water to thrive. A good ornamental grass for borders, it can grow to heights of anywhere from 2 to 10 feet.
6. Little Bunny Fountain Grass
Considered a dwarf fountain grass, it’s short in stature (8 to 10 inches), but hardy enough to grow in a variety of conditions, in different soils, with different amounts of water, and with different amounts of sunlight. Light pink in the summer, it turns to yellow-brown and then brown in the fall.
7. Mexican Feather Grass
This 1 to 2 foot tall perennial has wispy, wiry green leaves that give it its alternate names of “pony tail” and “angel hair.” It’s unusually easy to grow, in that it’s rarely bothered by pests, doesn’t require fertilizer, and is drought-resistant.
8. Picata Ribbon Grasses
Ribbon grasses are among the hardiest of the ornamental grasses, and in fact hardy enough to be difficult to get rid of by those who regard them as weeds. The Picata variety tends to be less invasive, and can generally be controlled if grown in shade rather than full sunlight. It can grow up to 5 feet tall, and is green with white stripes.
9. Pink Champagne Ruby Grass
Its flashy pink plumes that appear in summer make this annual one of the most visually impressive of the ornamental grasses. In full or partial sun with moderate watering, it’ll grow to heights of 1 to 2 feet.
10. Silver Banner Grass
This is a 3 to 6 foot tall grass, olive green, adding a silver head on its stalks in August. It prefers full to nearly full sunlight, and moist soil.
Ornamental grasses tend to be a lot less work than flowers or most plants. They can be one of a gardener’s best friends.
Debopriya Bose, “Ornamental Grass Varieties.” Buzzle.
Doug Green, “Ornamental Grasses.” Doug Green’s Gardening-Tips-Perennials.
P. Allen Smith, “Ornamental Grass Varieties.” P. Allen Smith Garden Home