Florida's warm, tropical climate makes desirable growing conditions for many types of grasses. Gardeners have many choices in native, ornamental and turf grasses that grow well throughout the various regions of the state. As with any plant, check the growing requirements of any grass to be added to a landscape. This will assure a hardy, problem-free addition to your garden.
Florida has quite a few native species of grasses that grow wild. They make good additions for xeroscaping because of their tolerance to drought and salt, as well as being a low-maintenance plant.
Florida gamma grass (Tripsacum floridana) grows wild throughout the entire state. It is a large, clumping grass that grows to a height of 4 feet with a spreading habit of up to 6 feet. It produces yellow flowers spring through summer and is utilized for stabilizing steep slopes and banks.
Purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis) is a fast-growing grass found statewide. It is a clumping variety that grows up to 3 feet tall with an equivalent spread. The grass has year-round blooms of small reddish/purple flowers.
Panic grass (Panicum virgatum) grows statewide and is quite salt and drought tolerant. Clumps grow up to 5 feet in height with the same spread. Tan flowers form in summer.
Non-Native Ornamental Grasses
Many non-native grasses are added to landscapes for specimen plants or use in borders, as well as when xeroscaping.
Pampas grass (Cortadenia selloana) is used as specimens because of its fast-growing habit and blooms. The grass grows up to 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide. White, plume-like flowers are produced throughout summer.
Japanese silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensis) grows statewide and resembles a smaller version of pampas grass. Plants grow up to 9 feet in height and spread up to 8 feet. White to tan plume-like flowers are produced throughout summer into fall.
Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus), also known as dwarf lirope, grows statewide and makes a good border grass. It is a slower grower, reaching a maximum height and spread of 1 foot. White flowers are produced throughout summer.
Warm-season turf grasses grow best in Florida's warm, humid climates. Select a variety that will suit the environment, as some varieties prefer growing in full sunlight to shade.
Bermuda grass (Cynodon) is a warm-season grass that is salt, drought and wear tolerant. It is commonly found on football, soccer and baseball fields, as well as golf courses. It is a vigorous grower of a medium-green color and quite dense.
St. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is one of the most popular and commonly-found lawn grasses growing throughout Florida. There are various cultivars, with some more adapted to shade than others. It is a warm-season grass of medium green to blue/green color with a dense, matting habit.