Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses add grace and motion to the garden with straplike foliage that sways in the gentlest breeze. The fluffy flowers and seed heads on many varieties last throughout the winter, attracting birds and adding winter interest to the garden.

About This Plant

The term ornamental grasses encompasses many species with different textures, sizes, colors, and flower forms. Foliage and flower colors include red, pink, purple, tan, and white, in addition to all hues of green. Most types bloom in midsummer; however, dried seed heads can remain on plant all winter. Plants grow 1' to 9' tall, depending on the variety, and can be used as ground covers, in containers, in borders, or to screen a fence or view. Some species can be invasive.

Special Features

Easy care/low maintenance
Good for cut flowers
4-Season interest
Unusual foliage

Care

Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Cut back the plant in late winter to stimulate new growth. Some species need dividing every 3 to 4 years to keep the plants vigorous. Taller species, such as fountain grass, may need staking.

Site Selection

Most grasses prefer full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Some types tolerate other conditions.

Planting Instructions

Plant in spring, spacing plants 1 to 3 feet apart, depending on the variety. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.

Other Plant Care Guides in Perennials
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Columbine
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Dead Nettle
Delphinium
Dianthus
Foxglove
Geranium
Hosta
Lamb's Ears
Oriental Poppy
Ornamental Grasses
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Peony
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Rudbeckia
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Veronica
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Article published on May 10, 2005.

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