Among the vast array of ornamental grasses, one type of flower display is the grass spike. Though not the typical shape most commonly associated with the word flower, spikes provide added texture, color and interest to your home landscape. Referred to as the flowering parts, ornamental grass spikes house the reproductive structures of your home garden grass.
Ornamental grass spikes develop as the reproductive structure. Ornamental grasses are used in the home landscape for their interesting visual impact due to the different textures and colors of spikes. These flowering units, also referred to as inflorescences, are one common type of ornamental grass flower, accompanied by panicles and racemes, according to the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.
Ornamental spike flowers produce spikelets that grow from the central stem without forming extra branches, creating its narrow, streamlined appearance. The spikelets are the tiny floral components that grow from the grass stem which contain reproductive structures, according to Texas Tech University. Visualize the braid-like spikes of wheat for a better understanding.
Ornamental grasses with spike flowers offer versatile use in the home landscape as a formal addition, to enhance a native area and for a more informal appearance. Spiked blooms occur during every season, depending on the grass species chosen as there are both cool-season and warm-season ornamental grasses.
Ornamental grasses with spike flowers offer an expansive height range from low-growing varieties to those that reach several feet tall. Chinese fountain grass (Pennisetum orientale), for example, grows to a height of 1 1/2 feet. Annual fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum), however, reaches a height of up to 5 feet.
Though most ornamental grass species with spikes prefer full sun and well-drained soil, this uniformity does not extend to your aesthetic options. Varied in texture and color, ornamental grass spikes offer a vast array of appearances for your desired home landscape. The Moudry variety of fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) displays black flower spikes, blooming from the end of summer to the beginning of autumn, according to the Clemson University Extension. Chinese fountain grass displays a very different look with white to pale pink spikes during the end of spring through fall. Spikes in fine to fluffy textures and foliage in greens, blue-greens and those that take on bronze hues during autumn offer diversity to your home garden.
- Texas A&M University Bioinformatics Working Group: Inflorescence Types
- Colorado State University Extension: Ornamental Grasses
- University of Nevada Cooperative Extension:Selection and Care of Ornamental Grasses for Northern Nevada
- Texas Tech University Department of Plant & Soil Science: Part II Reproductive Anatomy