The Q&A Archives: Perennial Grass

Question: Is there a tall attractive grass that is a perennial?

Answer: There are several to choose from:

Feather Reed Grass: Calamagrostis x acutiflora This hardy perennial grass is cool season grass that is hardy to zone 4, where it becomes a warm season grass due to the cooler overall climate of the north. It has an upright narrow form and arching fronds, growing from 2 to 5 feet depending on variety. The flower spikes generally persist into winter. Feather Reed prefers medium to moist conditions and will tolerate heavy soils. The?Karl Foerster? variety blooms earlier than most Feather Reed and works well where the growing season is short. Reaches about 4 to 5 feet in height and is hardy to zone 3. ?Overdam? has white variegated foliage and is best in light shade. It reaches 2 to 3 feet and is hardy to zone 4. ?Avalanche? is variegated, and ?Eldorado? has narrow green leaves that have bright gold centers.

Fountaingrass (perennial): Pennisetum alpecuroides Fountaingrass has been widely used by gardeners for some time. It is a warm season grass, that will do well in moderately moist to moist soil with full sun. It has been found to be hardy to zone 4, but general recommendation is zone 5. Winter protection is advised in case of severe cold in zone 4. Fountaingrass grows to a height of 3 or 4 feet Foliage is bright green and displays bottlebrush flowers. Excellent specimen plant or in containers.

Japanese Silvergrass: Miscanthus sinensis This particular variety of the hardy perennial, warm season grass, is 4-8 feet tall and hardy to zone 3. It?s upright stature is excellent for screening, specimen plants, large container plantings, or water features. It does very well in full sun and average to wet soils. Miscanthus covers a large variety of grasses, and it is important that you select a reliably hardy type. ?Silberfeder? has wonder full plumes in fall and gets through a zone 4 winter well. It is vase shaped with silver mid rib foliage. ?Strictus? is hardy only to zone 5, perhaps marginally in zone 4, and grows well in full sun to part shade. Also known as porcupine grass, it has stiff leaves with yellow bands. It is very eyecatching and brightens a dark corner or complements darker plants. Some Silvergrass can be invasive and should only be grown in cultivated and tended areas rather than near natural habitats such as prairie or woodland, where it can invade unchecked.

Purple Moorgrass: Molina caerulea A hardy perennial grass with attractive clumps of light green upright arching flower stems. Foliage turns yellow in fall and brown, yellow or purple flowers fade to tan. Purple Moorgrass is a cool to warm season grass hardy to zone 3 or 4 that self seeds. Generally midsize to tall, 5 to 7 feet. Prefers full sun and average to wet soil and does not like high alkaline soil. Mature leaves and flowers break off at the base reducing winter interest. ?Skyracer? has tall spires of airy heads that work well to anchor tall structures or as a finishing point of a garden. ?Heidebraut? is more compact at 4 feet, and ?Moorhexe? is compact with purple flowers.

Hope one of these suggestions is just what you're looking for.

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