seeking tall thin plant - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Reid Freeman
Los Angeles, ca
Question by reido50
January 2, 2006
Looking for a thin stick like plant similar to horse tail.

Answer from NGA
January 2, 2006


There are some ornamental grasses that remain narrow yet grow tall. Here are a few suggestions:

Japanese Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus): Fine grass-like, foot tall semi-evergreen leaves give a texture similar to mondo grass, but thrive in constantly moist, even wet soil. They will also grow in ordinary garden soil in part shade, but need more moisture in full sun.

Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii): This very tall native grass grows from 3 to 8 feet tall in a narrow clump. The leaves are blue-green in summer, turning rust in fall. It needs full sun and prefers moist to average soil but is very drought tolerant once established.

Giant Reed (Arundo donax):One of the largest grasses, giant reed grows 10 to 20 feet tall. Wide blue-green semi-evergreen to evergreen leaves are arranged along bamboo like stems. Large flower plumes appear in late fall. It can be invasive. It prefers sun and moist well-drained soil, but tolerates wet soil.

?Variegata? has leaves brightly striped with creamy yellow in spring. The leaves fade somewhat by fall. Grows 6 to 12 feet tall.

Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha): Arching dark leaves form a broad, mounded clump 2 ? feet tall covered by tall pink plumes in fall. This species tolerates hot summers better than C. acutiflora. It will grow best in the South in light or part shade, and moist well-drained soil.

Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora?): This cool season clump forming evergreen grass grows best in the upper Piedmont. It grows narrowly upright 2 to 4 feet tall with slim, tall flower heads in spring that turn golden tan in summer. Sun or part shade.

Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium): This native grass thrives in shade. It bears oval flowers prized for dried flower arrangements dangling from 3-foot tall curving stems in fall. Grow in shade or part shade. Prefers moist, rich soil, but tolerates drought once established. Self seeds abundantly.

Weeping Love Grass (Eragrostis curvula): This drought tolerant grass is commonly used for erosion control on highways, but is also very ornamental. Dark green, very fine textured foliage forms dense weeping clumps 1 foot tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Full sun.

Japanese Silver Grass (Miscanthus sinensis): The species may grow up to 10 feet tall, with large whisk-like flower plumes ranging in color from reddish purple to silver. Prefers full sun and moist, rich, well drained soil, but will tolerate some drought once established. It often reseeds and can be invasive near natural areas. Avoid planting the straight species, which is most likely to be invasive.

?Adagio? is one of the smallest cultivars, growing to only 36 inches tall in a tight mound of fine green foliage. Abundant flowering in late summer
?Cabaret? has centrally white-striped, wide leaves on a strong, self-supporting 6 foot tall plant. Purplish flower heads in early fall mature to tan.
?Cosmopolitan? has white striping on the edges of its wide leaves. Strong, non-floppy habit.
?Gracillimus? has narrow leaves with a silver midrib, Five to 6 feet tall plants tend to flop unless staked. Good orange to buff fall color.
?Morning Light? is a strongly upright plant to 4 feet tall. The slender leaves appear silvery gray green due to fine white striping. Flower plumes are red on opening, fading to soft tan.
?Purpurascens? grows in a tight, upright clump 3 to 4 feet tall. The leaves are green with a red tint, turning brilliant red orange in fall.
?Strictus? (Porcupine Grass) is an improved, strongly upright form of zebra grass, growing to 6 feet tall. It also has bright yellow, horizontal bands across the leaf.
?Variegatus? has 5 foot tall brightly white striped foliage. This variety will have best color if planted in light shade. It needs to be staked for best appearance.

Hairgrass (Muhlenbergia capillaris): Clouds of tiny flowers form a pinkish-purple haze appearing in October and fading to tan through the winter on this showy native grass. Clumps of very fine, blue-green to gray-green foliage rise to 2 to 3 feet tall. Full sun, extremely drought tolerant once established.

Bamboo Muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa): Arching bamboo like stems with billowy light green foliage, grow 5 to 6 feet tall. Bamboo muhly is an excellent non-invasive substitute for bamboo. Full sun, drought resistant once established.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum): This beautiful native grass has many varieties with showy flowers, excellent fall color and winter interest. Switch grass prefers full sun in moist to wet soil, but is highly adaptable. It reseeds occasionally, but not invasively.

?Cloud Nine? has light blue foliage growing 6 feet tall with large airy flower heads rising another 1 to 2 feet in mid to late summer.
?Heavy Metal? has a strongly upright, narrow habit with airy flowers and 3 to 4 feet tall metallic blue foliage that turns yellow in fall.
?Shenandoah? has deep green leaves tipped with purple in summer, turning burgundy purple in fall. Flowers are reddish pink. This variety grows to only 3 to 4 feet tall.

Hope one of these suggestions works well in your garden.

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