ORNAMENTAL GRASSES ADD A LITTLE RESPITE FROM THE MORE COMMON LEAFED PLANTS
Ornamental grasses are a great asset in both arid and wetter climates and of course there are types that adapt well to cooler seasons and ones that flourish in warmer climates. However that is not to infer that warmer climate grasses will not grow in zones above 6. There are many that will grow as far north in zone 4. I will address those a little later on this page.
I guess you are wondering why I purchased the white pampas grass when I live in Zone 5. I am going to try an experiment by mulching the plant heavily and attempt to keep the plant sheltered from lots of winter air rush. I will report back next spring hopefully with a still live plant. It will require full sun and blooms in mid to late summer It normally does well in zones 7-10 and grows 5-7 feet tall and spreads 3-4 feet.
I just liked the looks of the PURPURASCENS and thought it would fit well into my new garden section which I hope I will have pictures of later in the season. This can be grown in zones 5-9 and will withstand temperatures to -10 degrees. I think if you mulched it heavily it would withstand additional below zero temperatures. This ornamental grass reaches a height of four to five feet making it an an excellent screening grass in the background. It requires full sun and spreads to four feet and will remain green in the summer but turns burgundy red in the fall and also blooms in the fall a nice treat when everything else is over. A side note: It doesn't do well in real moist or extreme dry conditions.
In the field of ornamental grasses,the 'KARL FOERSTER' FEATHER REED ORNAMENTAL GRASS is very attractive and has one of the lowest maintenance grasses around. It will grow 5 to 7 feet and is good in zones 4-7. It does well in full sun and can settle into a clay soil. It has ever changing color starting with deep green shiny foilage in the spring.It has feathery pink flower heads which appear in May and then change from a creamy white to a golden tan as the seedheads mature.I am really excited about receiving and planting these ornamental grasses.
Specific information on growing bamboo found here just click here - I bet most people don't know that bamboo is a grass. Find out how to grow bamboo all the way to zone 4
ORNAMENTAL GRASSES ARE EASY TO GROW AND MAINTAIN
Well now that I went off on a tangent I will get back to the subject at hand. Ornamental grasses can accept a broad deversity of soils. They hardly ever require the application of fertilizer and the good news no major insect problems. Based on the other ornamental grasses in my garden,I would remove the dried up foliage at least once a year. This should be done prior to the appearance of new growth.
The plants can be cut back to within several inches of the soil with your pruning equipment or you can groom out the dry foilage with a hand cultivator. You should really thin out or divide ornamental grasses every few years especially if they die in the middle of the plant or just become too big.
You can impose many garden designs with grasses. You can plant blue or silver foliage with a entire area dedicated to the use of this type. Just look at the landscape above and you can view a perfect example of the use of this foliage in a front garden setting. The temperature of the climate encourages a response from the ornamental grasses. There are those who like the coolness of Spring and others will not wait around for the soil to warm and temperatures to become more consistent. The grasses are divided into cool season grasses and warm season grasses.
Ornamental grasses can be planted either in the spring or the fall. The best time,in my opinion,is to plant them in the spring this enables the plants to develop an adequate root sytem. Planting them too late in the fall can result in cautionary measures especially if a particularly early or severe winter hits in those cooler climates. If it is necessary to wait,pick August or September and give your grasses a light cover of straw or hay. A mulch should be applied after several hard frosts if you live in one of these areas.
These type of plants should never be planted too deeply. A rule of thumb here never deeper than the pots they arrived in from the nursery. Ornamental grasses planted too deep tend to develop diseases of the root or just plain rot in the soil. It would be good to continue a consistent moisture of the soil especially around the perimeter of the plant to speed up a solid base for the plant.
COOL SEASON ORNAMENTAL GRASSES
Your cool season grasss will commence growing in the early spring. You may notice this type of ornamental grass to even have survived the winter in a semi-green state. Cool season grasses always perform well in these conditions with better quality foliage and if given enough water to stem off any period of drought. Unfortunately,if you don't water these plants during a drought,they have tendency to go dormant and result in brown foliage. These plants may also require more periodic divison to keep them strong and healthy. If the ritual is not maintained they have the tendency to die in the center of the plant. There are those types that remain semi-evergreen over the winter and you should only cut the brown or damaged foliage in the spring.Here are several examples of cool season grasses
Fescues are mound-developing semi-evergreen perennials used as a distinctive feature in the front of borders and in rock gardens. The large blue type is much hardier than the its smaller brother and should be used in zone 4.These ornamental grasses are grown for their blue gray foliage. The flowers produced by this grass is unremarkable and should be removed. They should be planted where there is well drained soil. These grasses have the tendency to die back in hot and dry weather and need to be watered to prevent your foliage from becoming brown. It needs to be divided often to keep its strong growth.
The quaking grass is an annual grass which can easily be produced from seed. This grass presents a great showing of flowers. The flowers themselves are white and silver and appear to be small rattlesnake tails. Extremely colorful in any garden setting and provide very good dried flower material. It requires full sun to very light shade and a soil that is well drained.
WARM SEASON ORNAMENTAL GRASSES
These ornamental grasses perform in the warmer season and surprisingly excellent in appearance even at high temperatures and with limited moisture. The weather must become uniform and the soil warm for these grasses to show their stuff. The prior seasons growth usually becomes brown and requires the cutting back of plants to 4-6 inches in the spring. The warm grasses need not be divided as often as their cooler cousins. We have here a few samples of warm grasses for your garden.Growing bamboo in your garden made easy just click here
Switchgrass is an upright strong perennial with many rhizomes. It is primarily grown for the height and the large fragile flowers that some say provide a hazy effect. It is handy as a background plant and as a screen. Switchgrass blooms from July-September and produces tiny shiny red-like seeds. These seeds can be a reseeding problem. However if you maintain a well mulched garden then it is less of a problem. It grows best in full sun or very light shade from three to seven feet tall in zones 4-8.
Little Bluestem a grass that is perennial and can grow almost anywhere in North America. It is drought resistant and easy to care for clumping grass that has moved from the farmland into the home landscape in the last years. It provides a great deal of interest when planted randomly in patches on slopes or in dry areas of the landscape. It can grow either in full sun or partial shade. In masses Little Bluestream is easily mixed with your flowering perennials as in daisies,daylilies,salvias,or rudbeckias as a changeover between your well work garden and the woods at the rear of your home landscape. In the late summer it can reach heights of five feet and the blue look is even more effective. It readily reseeds so it is not recommended for small gardens. It is presently readily available at some nurseries that specialize in native plants.
Mexican Feather Grass is a Texas Native grass and grows well in zones 6-10. The grass can obtain heights of one to three feet and the flowers are a little taller than the foliage and are very suggestive of fine feathers hence the name. Mexican Feather Grass requires a well drained soil to perform at its best and is not tolerate of wet roots. It works best in full sun and is extremely heat tolerate. It looks great in flower boxes or in the rear border of your flower garden giving it an excellent contrast.
ORNAMENTAL GRASSES SOMETHING THAT WILL ADD ELEGANCE TO THE GARDEN
There are many other types that would be useful in your landscape and gardening plans. They are just too numerous to mention here. This should get you started either thinking about including them in your landscaping or gardening plans.
Return to Home from Ornamental grasses