Growing ornamental grass from seed can be a rewarding endeavor, but the process involves trial and error. For instance, some seed will not germinate. Some grasses perform better in one climate than another. You improve your chances of success when you select seed from native ornamental grasses. Native varieties adapt well to area conditions and are less susceptible to disease and pests, according to Karen Layton, Penn State master gardener.
Ernst Conservation Seeds
Ernst Conservation Seeds is a Pennsylvania-based mail-order company that started as Ernst Crownvetch Farms in the 1960s. The company sells native and naturalized seed of eastern North American landscapes and bioengineered plant materials for restoration projects. The company carries specialty wetland products like coastal panic grass, which helps stabilize coastal dunes and controls wind erosion. Ernst Conservation Seed also offers seed mixes to suit meadow, reclamation, riparian, upland and woodland sites.
Stock Seed Farms
Stock Seed Farms produces grass seed native to the Great Plains and the Midwest. The company was founded by Lyle and Margaret Stock, who harvested their first certified Nebraska 28 Switch Grass in 1956. The company produces a lot of forage grass, but it also carries native prairie grasses that can be used in ornamental applications, such as big blue stem and switchgrass. The website has images and descriptions along with taxonomy and landscape information for each type of seed.
Western Native Seed
Western Native Seed is a Colorado-based supplier of seed from plants found in the Rocky Mountains and western Great Plains. Ornamental grass varieties include bottlebrush, buffalo and tufted hairgrass. Seed is available by the packet, ounce, 1/4-pound and 10-pound varieties.
High Altitude Gardens
High Altitude Gardens functions as the mail-order arm of Seeds Trust, a seed conservation company that was founded in 1984. High Altitude Gardens began to produce seed for use in high elevation applications at the company’s Idaho garden facility but it moved most operations to Arizona in 2005. Despite the move, the company continues to test production seed at high elevations. The company specializes in vegetable and wildflowers seed, but it also sells 25 ornamental grasses (see Resources).
Seedland operates an online business from their headquarters in Florida. The company carries turf, farm and pasture grass seed in 5-, 25- or 50-pound quantities. Possible ornamentals include Indian grass, lovegrass and side oats gramma. Order seed through their website, by phone or mail (see Resources).