The foliage and seed heads of ornamental grasses provide year-round interest in the garden as well as movement and sound. These versatile plants are easy to plant and maintain.
Ornamental grasses include short, ground covers, as well as tall, stately specimens. The term also includes bamboos, rushes and sedges.
Colors of ornamental grasses range from bright green to golden yellow, and from muted green to silvery-blue. Variegated grasses can be striped horizontally or vertically, speckled or blotched.
Some ornamental grasses form rounded to upright clumps, while others spread over large areas. Cool season grasses bloom in fall and turn brown during the winter. Warm season grasses are usually evergreen to semi-green with blooms in the summer.
Ornamental grasses add height to planting areas without the heaviness of shrubs and serve as accents to the brighter colors of flowers. They can also be massed together for a natural effect.
Japanese Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus) and Cord Grass (Spartina pectinata) grow in wet or boggy areas and can be used in or around water features.
Most ornamental grasses prefer full sun but sedges (Carex sp.) and Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) will grow in the shade.
Perennial ornamental grasses can be planted in the spring or fall, but they should be divided in the spring to allow time for the flowers to develop. They should be divided when the center begins to die out. Annual ornamental grass seed should be planted in the spring after the last frost.
- University of Illinois Extension
- Ornamental Grasses for the Home and Garden
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About this Author
Melody Lee began working as a reporter and copywriter for the "Jasper News" in 2004 and was promoted to editor in 2005. She also edits magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design, is a Florida Master Gardener, and has more than 25 years of gardening experience.