Water Wise Ornamental grasses are an essential part of all landscapes. Adding winter interest, texture, and form to the landscape. With a wide selection of color and height there are ornamental grasses to complement any need, or theme. Ornamental Grasses are generally cut down in the early spring to allow winter interest and insure the health of the grass. Below is a countdown to this summers must have ornamental grasses:
Plant Name: Bouteloua gracilis
A low-growing bunch-type grass native to the northwestern United States plain. The brush like inflorescences are the distinguishing characteristic of this warm season grass. Can be planted densely and mowed short to form a water-conserving lawn. As a lawn, this grass greens up during May-June and grows well in the heat but will reach dormancy in September.
Variety: 'Bad River' A northern variety of a low-growing bunch-type grass native to the northwestern United States plain. The brush like inflorescences are the distinguishing characteristic of this warm season grass. Can be planted densely and mowed short to form a water-conserving lawn. As a lawn, this grass greens up during May-June and grows well in the heat but will reach dormancy in September.
Variety: 'Blonde Ambition' Introduced by David Salman of High Country Gardens, this surprising selection of blue grama boasts chartreuse seed heads held horizontally above the blue green foliage, creating a lovely contrast. Provides great winter interest if left uncut. Requires little care and is adapted to Utah conditions.
Plant Name: Bouteloua curtipendula
Clump-forming ornamental grass. Long, slender, gray-green leaves grow basally up to 18" long.
Tall spikes of purple, oat-like inflorescences grow in summer and only on one side of the stem. Native to Missouri prairies. Toleratent of a wide range of soil conditions. Grow well in dry soils.
Canada wild rye
Plant Name: Elymus Canadensis
Cool-season ornamental bunch grass native to North America.
Long, slender, bluish-green leaves grow from 3-5 feet long.
Wheat or rye-like seadheads grow on tall spikes in mid to late-summer and if left uncut provide interest during the winter months.
Easily grown and tolerates a wide range of conditions. May reseed easily.
Plant Name: Sorghastrum nutans 'Sioux Blue'
Upright growing, clump-forming ornamental grass.
Powder-blue leaves grow about 1/2" wide turning yellow to gold in the fall.
Tan inflorescences appear in mid to late-summer and grow on thin stalks above the plant.
Tolerant of drought and poor soils.
Fertile soils may cause the plant to flop and aggressively reseed.
Japanese forest grass
Plant Name: Hakonechloa macra 'Briform' FUBUKI
This grass is a great addition as it is one of the only grasses for full shade.
An ornamental grass from the Hakon region of Japan, this variety sports bright, ribbon-like green leaves striped with white.
Autumn brings tinges of pink to the foliage.
This bright little plant brightens up any shady spot.
Plant Name: Sporobolus airoides
Clump-forming perennial grass with lightly sharp-edged, gray-green leaves 12-24" long.
In mid summer, produces cloud-like flower pannicles of golden, pinkish bronze 24-36" long above the foliage.
Extremely drought tolerant and a heavy reseeder.
Great as a container plant or in masses.
Bears wheat-golden seedhead 6-10" long in May-June.
Shearing every year in winter will keep this grass at its peak.
Varieties: Festuca glauca 'Boulder Blue' and Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue' Is the bluest of the blue fescues.
# 13. Thirteen
Blue oat grass
Plant Name: Helictotrichon sempervirens
Bears upright stems with straw colored seed heads in early to mid summer.
Prefers well drained, moderately fertile soil and full sun.
# 12. Twelve
Tolerant of a wide range of soils. Provides excellent winter interest if left uncut. Best left throughout the winter and cut back to about 4-6 inches in the spring.
Plant Name: Panicum virgatum 'Hänse Herms'
Clump-forming, warm season, ornamental grass. Long, slender, mid-green leaves take on red tones in the summer and turn almost burgundy in the fall. Fine textured, pink-tinged seed heads appear in fall. May reseed.
Plant Name: Panicum virgatum 'Prairie Sky'
Dense growing ornamental grass. Long slender leaf blades form a sky-blue column. Wispy tan seed heads bloom in the late-summer to fall and last through winter.
Plant Name: Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch'
Has excellent fall color. Long slender green leaves turn bright red in the autumn, fading to tan in the winter. Panicles of airy seedheads bloom in mid-summer and are tinged with pink.
Plant Name: Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal'
Has metallic-blue leaves that form a dense columnar clump but may flop in overly fertile soils or too much shade. Fine textured, pink-tinged seed heads appear in fall.
Plant Name: Panicum virgatum 'Strictum'
Has blue-green leaf blades that form a loose column. Wispy tan seed heads bloom in the late-summer to fall and last through winter.
Plant Name: Panicum virgatum 'Dallas Blues'
Blue-green leaf blades are wider than most Panicums. Beautiful purple-tinged seed heads appear in late-summer to fall.
Plant Name: Panicum virgatum 'Cloud Nine'
One of the taller switch grasses, it has a strong growing, blue-green foliage with an upright shape. Above the grass blades a cloud of reddish-brown seed clusters form in August-November, turning a golden-yellow in fall. Prefers full sun, but tolerates some shade.
# 11. Eleven
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus'
Large ornamental grass with narrow, stiff, upward pointing foliage. Not to be confused with Zebra grass, which appears almost identical except for zebra grass is taller with drooping blades.
Provides great fall and winter interest.
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'
Long linear leaves grow up to 8 feet tall. Highly ornamental pinkish-white clusters of plumes bloom in late-summer to fall and last throughout the winter. Grows in a wide range of soils. Cut back in late-winter or early-spring before any new growth appears.
Very showy with its large white plumes. Grows best in warm locations and will need some shelter in colder areas. Plant in full sun in well-drained soils. Will not reseed.
Dwarf fountain grass
Short/dwarfed version of the traditional fountain grass characterized by its foxtail-like plumes that begin blooming in June and last into fall. Prefers full sun. Moderately drought tolerant.
Varieties: Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry'; Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'Dense; Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Little Bunny' - smallest form of fountain grass.
# 7. Seven
Feather reed grass
Grows upright in stiff clumps that keep their shape through the year. They grow only to 5 or 6 feet tall, making them one of the most manageable ornamental grasses for the home landscape. Dried plumes retain beauty when cut and dried. Prefers full sun.
Plant Name: Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
This is one of the most popular ornamental grasses and is characterized by arching, mid-green leaves. Stiff, erect stems. It bears soft, pink-bronze plumes in summer, fading to buff or pale brown in late summer through winter.
Plant Name: Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdam'
Mid-sized grass very similar to Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass. The main difference is that of pale yellow margins and stripes, that fade to pink-flushed white with age on the leaf blades. Produces a purplish brown seed head, turning grayish pink in fall. Prefers full sun.
Plant Name: Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Eldorado'
Is almost identical in shape, but 'Eldorado' has golden-yellow midribs. Its seed heads have a golden yellow hue.
# 6. Six
The leaves foliage should be left untouched through the winter and cut down in late-winter or early spring before new growth occurs.
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberfeder' SILVER FEATHER)
Plumes appear in late-August.
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio'
This variety is one of the smallest at three to four feet tall . The leaves are silvery gray and very narrow. It grows gray to white plumes on tall stems from late summer to autumn.
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'
One of the oldest and best known cultivars of large ornamental grasses. This cultivar has a rounded form and dark green foliage with narrow 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide blades. Red plumes appear in autumn and dry to form a very attractive and showy plume-like seed head in the fall.
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus'
is characterized by multi-colored foliage. White striped narrow leaves have 1/4 to 3/4" wide blades. Will tolerate light shade and produces a beautiful red-tinted plume-like seed head in the fall.
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Pünktchen' LITTLE DOT
Clump-forming ornamental perennial grass. Stiffly upright, with creamy yellow horizontal bands on the leaf blades. Tall stem with dense silky-hairy spikelets of pale grey plumes tinted maroon or purple-brown are produced in autumn.
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Yaku Jima'
Compact rounded ornamental grass with very narrow leaves. Not a true clone but a name used for several very similar cultivars. Very attractive fine yellow to tan inflorescenses appear in late-summer.
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'
One of the best varieties . Similar to 'Gracillimus' . Creamy yellow leaf margins providing an overall silvery appearance. Small red plumes appear in late-summer to fall turning tan in winter.
Plant Name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Graziella'
Early blooming and upright form. Slender green leaves turn copper red in the autumn then tan in winter. Silver to white plumes appear in late summer, before the other varieties. Seed heads turn tan during winter spring before new growth occurs.
Plant Name: Saccharum ravennae
Very tall upright growing grass reaching 12-15ft in height. Produces very attractive purple-tan plumes in late-summer, turning to beautiful seed heads. Excellent for decoration as it retains its color. Tolerant of wet or dry soils.
# 4. Four
Northern sea oats
Plant Name: Chasmanthium latifolium
Clump-forming perennial grass native to North America. Its characteristics include flat seed heads that appear in late-summer to early-fall. The seed heads emerge green but turn to purplish-bronze with age eventually turning to tan when temperatures reach freezing. One of the most tolerant grasses to shade. Grows naturally along streams and other moist areas making it less drought tolerant.
# 3. Three
Little Bluestem Grass
Plant Name: Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues'
The foliage turns to dark orange-red in fall. Prefers full sun and low moisture. Produces a small seed head in late summer to mid-autumn.
Plant Name: Schizachyrium scoparium
Forms clumps of bright green leaves with a tinge of blue at the base. Purple to tan plumes bloom in fall turning to whitish seed heads. The most outstanding feature is its fantastic red color in the fall.
Plant Name: Schizachyrium scoparium 'Blaze'
Developed as a high-yielding pasture grass. Also valued for its red fall leaf color. Grows in clumps up to 18 inches across.
# 2. Two
Plant Name: Miscanthus 'Purpurascens'
Clump forming ornamental grass. 1/2" mid-green grass blades are tinged with red and turn red-orange in the fall. Minuscule red plumes appear in the summer. Tolerant of a wide range of soils. To reach full height requires frequent watering other wise is considered a low water plant.