Posted on Nov 20, 2015 | by S Mason
Your Fall Garden can sometimes suffer from lack of interest once all the showy flowers have died, but ornamental grasses can take it up a notch and provide lots of interest throughout the cold season. Grasses provide both movement and sound with a breeze. And they catch light like no other plant.
Another great bonus is that many varieties offer beautiful fall color. Grasses come in a plethora of shapes and sizes. Smaller mounding grasses are great to use in the front of a border to lend interest lower to the ground. Tall, upright grasses make a statement in your garden and command attention, while Fountain Grasses lend a wispy, elegant touch to your garden design. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some of the most popular ornamental grasses. As always, check with your local nursery to learn what will grow best in your area.
|Blue Oatgrass||Helictotrichon sempervirens||An easy to care for plant with steel-blue color that is very striking. Has a mounded habit that doesn’t spread. Grows in full sun and well-drained soil. Grows up to 4 feet tall. Zones 4-9 (though has been grown successfully in colder Zone 3 cities).|
|Japanese Forestgrass||Hakonechloa macra||A low-growing grass with a mounding habit. Variegated selections (such as 'Aureola' or 'All Gold') have brightly colored foliage. Looks like a small waterfall. Grows in part shade and well-drained soil up to 1 foot tall, though in time Forestgrass can get a bit larger. Zones 5-9.|
|Feather Reedgrass||Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'||A narrow, upright grass that lends architectural interest to your garden. Grows in full sun and well-drained soil up to 6 feet tall. Zones 5-9.|
|Fountaingrass||Pennisetum alopecuroides||A graceful grass with a mounding habit, Fountaingrass has soft, feathery plumes. Grows in full sun and well-drained soil to 5 feet tall. Zones 5-9.|
|Switchgrass||Panicum virgatum||An upright grass with pretty plumes in late summer and fall. Varieties of switchgrass such as “Dallas Blues” and “Northwind” will remain upright even after a strong rainstorm. “Dallas Blues” also has pretty silvery blue foliage that turns golden-red in the fall. Grows in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil to 5 feet tall. Zones 4-9.|
|Cordgrass||Spartina pectinate||A spreading prairie grass that does well in damp, even wet, soil so is a great choice to plant near streams. Spreads by rhizomes and is often used for soil erosion control in marshy areas. Grows in full sun and moist soil to 7 feet tall. Zones 4-7.|
|Maidengrass||Miscanthus sinensis||A very popular ornamental grass with lovely plumes and golden bronze color in cooler weather. Clumping habit and graceful, arching foliage. Grows in full sun in full sun and moist, well-drained soil up to 8 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 4-9.|
|Purple Fountaingrass||Pennisetum setaceum 'Purpureum'||With beautiful burgundy-red foliage all season long, purple fountaingrass is used all year long in warmer climates, but is grown as an annual in cooler climates. Often used in container plantings. Grows in full sun and well-drained soil to 3 feet tall. Zones 9-10.|
|Northern Sea Oats||Chasmanthium latifolium||Northern Sea Oats have interesting seed heads which dangle down and last through three seasons. This grass spreads quickly through rhizomes so keep this in mind when planting. Foliage turns bronze in the fall. Grows up to 5 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. Zones 5-9.|
|Zebragrass||Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus'||Zebragrass features lovely color with horizontal yellow stripes. It grows upright and adds interest to any border. Also great in containers. Grows to 5 feet tall in full to part sun and moist, well-drained soil. Zones 4-9.
|Purple Moorgrass||Molinia caerulea||Purple moorgrass has a mounding habit and turns a lovely gold in autumn. Purple Moorgrass likes shade in hot, dry locations and full sun in cooler climates. Grows to 5 feet tall in full sun to part shade. Likes moist soil. Zones 5-9.|
|Blue Fescue||Festuca glauca||Blue Fescue is a great choice as groundcover. It grows in compact mounds and has pretty silver-blue foliage. Grows to 1 foot tall in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. Zones 4-9.|
Feather Reedgrass (Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster')