Mountain ranges, forests and thousands of acres of grasslands and wild flower fields define Colorado’s picturesque natural landscape. Ornamental grasses in Colorado are native to the area or naturalized imports that tolerate the Colorado soil well, gracefully complementing the state’s beautiful environment. Ornamental grasses add height, dimension and privacy to manicured landscapes and are favored for their low maintenance and high adaptability to various soil types.
Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)—a perennial and native tall grass of the Poaceae family—grows well in moist soil and humid conditions. It also tolerates drought soil conditions and thrives well in full sun and partial shade. Big bluestem works well as a privacy grass and has brown-colored flowers that bloom in late summer. This ornamental grass grows up to 8 feet tall..
Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans)—also known as Indian Steel—is a prairie perennial tall grass that belongs to the Poaceae family and grows 3 to 5 feet in height. It thrives in moist soil but tolerates dry and low-moisture soil conditions. Indian grass grows well in full sun or very little shade, humid conditions and is a low-maintenance grass. Its flowers are red and bloom in late summer, and it produces yellow seedheads. Indian grass maintains its shape through winter.
Little bluestem (Schizahyrium scoparium)—the shortest bluestem grass—is a perennial grass that grows 2-to-4 feet tall. Belonging to the Poaceae family, it is a low-maintenance ornamental grass that does well in full sun and dry to lightly-moist soil, which may explain its low growth height. Little bluestem forms silver-colored seedheads and its purplish blossoms form in late summer through fall.
Needle grass (Stipa spartea) thrives in full sun and dry-to-moist soil conditions. This perennial ornamental grass is native to prairies and grows 1 ½ to 2 feet in height. Also known as porcupine grass, needle grass belongs to the Gramineae or Poaceae family, according to the University of Illinois’ Illinois Natural History Survey. Its grassheads resemble hairy needles and is native to Colorado and the northern Midwestern states.
A low-growing perennial ornamental grass that is also used as turf, buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) grows 10 to 15 inches in height. It belongs to the Poaceae family, and it is native to steppe areas with dry soils. Its low height does not require as much moisture as the taller ornamental grasses.
Feathered Reed Grass
This ornamental grass earns its name from its seedheads, which resemble wheat. Feathered reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) belongs to the Poaceae family and grows up to 4 feet in height. It thrives well in moist soil, requiring regular watering in manicured landscapes. It changes color from green to brown and maintains its shape during winter.
Tufted Hair Grass
Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) is a perennial ornamental grass that does well in shade areas and requires low maintenance and moderate watering. It belongs to the Poaceae family and grows 2-to-3 feet tall. Its purple, gold or silver flowers bloom from mid to late summer.