Ornamental grasses provide the Florida gardener with numerous options for placement. These grasses grow anywhere from under 1 foot to over 10 feet tall and can be grown as focal points, background plants, ground covers, wind barriers, partitions or boundary edgings. Ornamental grasses for Florida include varieties native to the state, native to the southern region of the country and grasses non-native to Florida in various heights.
Short Florida Ornamental Grasses
Short ornamental grasses for Florida grow to a mature height of up to 4 feet. These grasses work well as ground covers and edgings for pathways or flowerbeds, as well as mixed with other plants or flowers in containers and garden beds. Short ornamental grasses for Florida include the clumping varieties such as chalky bluestem, wiregrass, mountain oats, lovegrass, purple or gulf muhly, lopsided indiangrass, purpletop and Florida gamagrass. Native Florida ornamental creeping grasses that spread out consist of coastal bluestem and smooth cordgrass. Ornamental grasses native to the southern part of the country that grow in Florida include heavy metal and Shenandoah switchgrasses. Non-native varieties of ornamental grasses suitable for Florida landscaping consist of numerous “fountain,” “ribbon” and “silver” grass species.
Medium Florida Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses classified as medium can grow to heights ranging from 4 to 6 feet. These types of ornamental grasses often begin as short grasses in the spring and continue to grow through summer reaching the full height in the fall. Planted as companions to herbaceous flowers or surrounded by bushes, ornamental grasses of medium height create wind barriers when fully grown. Medium height native Florida ornamental grasses include Fakahatcheegrass and sea oats. Those native to the southern region consist of bamboo muhly and Alamo switchgrass. Non-native ornamental grasses suitable for Florida include gold band, dwarf, silver stripe and sun stripe “pampas” grasses, lemon grass, burgundy giant fountain grass, zebra grass, maiden grass, crown grass and several species of Japanese silver grasses.
Tall Florida Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses for Florida categorized as tall grasses typically reach heights of more than 6 feet; however, the overall height of the ornamental grasses depends on the growing environment. A neglected medium or tall ornamental grass may not grow beyond a few feet or a small over-watered and over-fertilized variety could reach heights well beyond the standard. Many of the ornamental grasses come in more than one species with differing mature heights. Tall ornamental grasses create walls and borders in Florida landscapes. Ornamental grasses classified as tall include non-native varieties of black, pink and sunnydale silver pampas grasses, tiger grass along with Vetiver grass. Some species that grow in northern Florida may not thrive in southern regions of the state and vice versa. A local garden center or state extension office can provide more information about the types that thrive in different regions.