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Ornamental Grasses in Ohio

ornamental grass image by Alison Bowden from

According to the Ohio State University Extension Service, ornamental grasses are experiencing a resurgence in popularity not seen since the Victorian age. Though certain varieties of ornamental grasses, such as reed canary grass, are banned in Ohio, many non-invasive varieties are available that can be cultivated as perennials in all areas of the Buckeye State. Some are adapted hybrids that can withstand the state's cold winters, volatile spring weather and warm, often humid summers.

Zebra Grass

Zebra Grass has flowers that bloom in early summer in Ohio. Since flowers can reach up to 8 feet tall, this plant is often used as an accent in landscapes needing vertical growth. Broad-leaved foliage is green and white, and flowers are cream or burgundy. It grows well in moderate to wet soil that is moderately fertile, and in full or partial sun. This clumping grass should be pruned to the ground in late March in Ohio to promote growth.

Blue Oat Grass

This variety’s blue to bluish-green foliage, rather than its height, makes it a standout. Foliage reaches up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and pale flowers grow up to 4 feet, making it a better ground cover plant. It favors well-drained soil, but can grow in a range of soil conditions. Full sun or light shade is preferred by this clumping cultivar. Late summer in Ohio is the time to remove flowers, while dead foliage should be eliminated in the spring.

Tufted Hair Grass

This plant's yellowish white flowers grow up to 3½ feet tall and bloom from July through September in Ohio. The plant’s medium green foliage grows up to 2 feet tall. Landscapers use the clumping semi-evergreens in borders. They grow best in part shade. They can tolerate drier conditions, but moist, organically rich soil is preferred. They should be pruned up to one-inch from the ground in the spring in the Buckeye State.

Ribbon Grass

Ribbon Grass, which grows from rhizomes, grows best in rich, moist soil, but can tolerate sun or partial shade. Foliage reaches 3 feet tall and buff-colored flowers up to 4 feet tall. Ohio plants that grow in sunny spots should be cut back in late July, and those that grow in the shade trimmed in late fall.

Giant Miscanthus

One of the tallest ornamental grasses that grow in Ohio, giant miscanthus flowers, which bloom white and then turn buff, reach up to 12 feet tall. Dark green foliage grows up to 10 feet tall. It is most often used for screening. Pruning should take place in early spring in Ohio before growth begins for this clumping variety.

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