List of Hardy Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are members of the grass or sedge families used for garden design and texture instead of sod or forage. Ornamental grasses have blade leaves and are tall and airy, swaying with the breeze. They make a nice backdrop for a garden plot or as a border at the property line.

Sea Oats

Sea oats (Uniola paniculata) is part of the Poaeceae/Gramineae, or grass, family. It is a perennial grass, drought resistant, with interesting foliage. Frequently found on sand dunes, its stems reach 2 feet long, with 6-foot stems and 18-inch panicles dropping off them. Sea oats requires full or partial sun, a moist fertile sandy soil, and can be propagated via division of the rhizomes or by seed. Cut sea oats down to the ground in the winter for proper regrowth.


Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is part of the Cyperaceae, or sedge, family. It is a fast-growing, evergreen perennial good for container gardening. Papyrus stems reach 10 feet tall with featherlike clusters of spikes 5 to 12 inches long. Small flowers bloom at the tips of the spikes. Papyrus requires full sun or partial shade and wet boggy soil. It can be propagated via clump division.

Citronella Grass

Citronella grass (Cymbopogon nardus) is part of the grass family. It is a fragrant perennial that grows to 6 feet tall. Its cane-like leaves grow to 3 feet long and 1 inch wide. Citronella oil, used as an insect repellent, is produced from citronella. This plant prefers full sun and at least 30 inches of water a year. It can be propagated via clump division before winter

Giant Reed

Giant reed (Arundo donax) is part of the grass, family. It is a fast-growing perennial that can reach 20 feet tall. Giant reed looks similar to bamboo. Its leaves are 2 inches long, and it produces a 1- to 2-foot long plume that can range from purple to silver. Giant reed prefers full sun and moist soil. It can be propagated via stem cuttings or rhizome division in the spring.

Who Can Help

Keywords: ornamental grass, grass family, garden design

About this Author

Tina Samuels has been a full-time freelance writer for more than 10 years, concentrating on health and gardening topics, and a writer for 20 years. She has written for "Arthritis Today," "Alabama Living," and "Mature Years," as well as online content. She has one book, “A Georgia Native Plant Guide,” offered through Mercer University; others are in development.