Decorative grasses are grown for their interesting foliage and textures. Some have distinctively variegated leaves. Others have showy seed heads or flowers. Many are tall enough to be cultivated as privacy screens or borders. The foliage and flowers can be dried and used in crafts or indoor flower arrangements. Most decorative grasses are easy to care for, according to Colorado State University, making them an attractive choice for beginning or even experienced home gardeners.
Miscanthus (Miscanthus spp.)
Miscanthus grasses are native to Asia and have been popular in America since the early 20th century, according to Colorado State University. These grasses are desirable for their soft, slender flowers that last until winter in some areas. Japanese silver grass is a popular species of miscanthus. "Morning Light" is a cultivar of Miscanthus sinensis that has a silvery-pink color to its flowers with creamy-white variegation on the leaves.
Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora)
Feather reed grass is a spring-blooming decorative grass that features tall, feathery green flower spikes from May through June. In the summer, the sun bleaches them to a golden color similar in appearance to wheat. This fades to brown in the fall and winter. This is a very upright type of decorative grass and makes an excellent specimen plant or vertical screen.
Blue Fescue (Festuca spp.)
Blue fescues are desirable for their greenish-blue color, compact growing habit and neat, mounded form. These smaller ornamental grasses range in height from 6 to 18 inches and work well as border plants or accents. These plants thrive in cool, moist soil and climates but do not like "wet feet." The University of Illinois suggests removing the insignificant flowers to maintain the neat shape of the decorative grass.
Perennial Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
Fountain grasses can grow from 1 to 3 feet tall, depending on the cultivar, and are a great choice for a decorative grass, according to the University of Illinois. The flowers spill from the mound of leaves much like a fountain and sometimes dip gracefully to the ground. This summer blooming plant starts off with very pale purple, feathery flowers that change to a deep golden purple color that lasts until winter. In the fall, the green leaves turn golden, attractively accenting the flowers. Fountain grass prefers moist, well-draining soil rich in organic nutrients.