Known for adding texture and beauty to gardens and landscapes, ornamental grasses make great additions to Pennsylvania gardens. The best perennial ornamental grasses require little maintenance while also offering a benefit to wildlife such as butterflies and birds. Choose from warm-season grasses that grow June through July, or cool-season grasses that grow in late winter but go dormant in hot summer weather.
Growing from four to eight feet tall, switch grass is a warm-season perennial featuring deep greenish-gray foliage. In the fall, the grass becomes golden-colored with red streaks. Reddish spikes form in late summer and early fall. Preferring full sun, this grass works well for erosion control. Birds and other wildlife also find its seeds to be an important food source.
This warm-season grass features deep roots and strong stems that not only survive winter, but also provide shelter for wildlife when planted in masses. Growing up to seven feet high, the plant’s blue-green foliage forms in clumps and thrives in summer.
This perennial’s foliage turns a rich red color in the fall and stays that way through the winter. The fluffy silver seed heads are a favorite with bird watchers since songbirds like to eat its seeds. Bluestem does best in full sun in just about any soil as long as there’s little shade.
A favorite of gardeners, pampas grass forms in large clumps featuring big, feathery plumes on top of stems that grow up to six feet tall. The plumes of this warm-season perennial come in white or pink. While it’s not a native to Pennsylvania, pampas grass thrives in full sun and grows in almost any soil type as long as it’s well-drained. The plumes also make a great addition to indoor dried flower arrangements.
One of the few ornamental grasses that grows well in shady areas, this cool-season native perennial grows up to five feet tall. Featuring light-green leaves and seed heads that resemble bottle brushes, this plant blooms in early spring. While this plant can be planted in full sun, it thrives in partial sun or shady areas of the garden in well-drained soil.