Perennial ornamental grasses add interest to gardens in Delaware all year. During the spring and the summer, the green, gray or blue foliage makes a bold statement in landscaping. In the fall and the winter, the plumes or panicles of seed heads rise above the foliage attracting birds and other wildlife. Perennial ornamental grasses that thrive in Delaware are low maintenance, and relatively free of pests and diseases.
Grasses for Full Sun
Indiangrass (Soghastrum nutans) is a perennial ornamental grass that is native to Delaware. It grows in full sun and dry soil, and has an arching form that grows 5 to 6 feet tall. Several varieties have bluish-green or bluish-gray foliage that turns orange or red in the fall. The seed heads are tannish-yellow.
Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and Lindheimer’s Muhly Grass (M. lindheimeri) grow 3 to 4 feet tall with an upright form. They are marginally hardy in northern Delaware and prefer dry to moist soil.
Grasses for Sun to Partial Shade
Switchgrass (Panicum varigatum) is a perennial ornamental grass native to Delaware that grows in sun or partial shade. It has blue-tinged foliage in an upright to arching clump that grows 5 to 7 feet tall. The foliage turns yellow in the fall.
Frost Grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus) forms a rounded 4-foot tall clump with panicles of hairy seeds that reflect the light. Switchgrass and Frost Grass grow best in moist well-drained soil.
Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) grows 3 to 4 feet tall, while Karl Foerster Reed Grass (C. x acutiflora Karl Foerster) grows 6 feet tall. Both have upright to arching shapes with medium green foliage with feathery seed heads.
Grasses for Shade
Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra Aureola), a perennial ornamental grass that grows in Delaware, forms a drooping mound of golden yellow foliage 18 to 24 inches tall. It prefers shade and evenly moist, but well-drained soil.
Crinkled Hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa) is fine textured grass that grows 8 to 12 inches tall. It has flowing feathery seed heads. Bottlebrush (Elymus hystrix) is a woodland grass that is drought tolerant in Delaware. It grows 2 ½ to 3 feet tall with showy bristly seed heads. While both are drought tolerant, they will also grow well in moist soil.