Growing Ornamental Grasses


Growing Ornamental Grasses transcript

I'm here in the Lloyd Border at White Flower Farm, next to a type of Ornamental Grass called Miscanthus 'Silver Feather.' Ornamental grasses are all in the same botanical family, but due to the variability in size and color and shape, you wouldn't know it by looking at them.

The value of these long-lived and low-maintenance perennials comes from the varied colors and textures of their foliage, as well as their dramatic flower heads. At White Flower Farm, we have offered a very wide variety of ornamental grasses through the years including:

  • Calamagrostis (Feather Reed Grass),
  • Carex (Sedge),
  • Chasmanthium (Sea Oats),
  • Festuca (Fescue),
  • Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass),
  • Helictotrichon (Oat Grass),
  • Leymus (Blue Lyme Grass),
  • Miscanthus (Eulalia or Maiden Grass),
  • Molinia (Moor Grass),
  • Muhlengergia (Muhly grass),
  • Stipa (or Nassella—Mexican Forest Grass),
  • Ophiopogon (Lilyturf or Mondo Grass),
  • Panicum (Switch Grass),
  • Pennisetum (Fountain Grass),
  • and Schizachyrium (Little Bluestem).

As you can see, the heights, colors, and textures of Ornamental Grasses are very diverse, and they will add depth and movement to a wide variety of areas.

Ornamental grasses are deer resistant due to their sharp-edged blades, which cut the deers’ tongues. Most varieties of ornamental grasses grow well in full sun and average garden soil. Two types thrive in part shade or even full shade—Hakonechloa, or Japanese Forest grass, is suitable in part shade, and Carex, or Sedge, thrives in part to full shade. Both Hakonechloa and Carex need soil that stays evenly moist.

Keep the foliage of ornamental grasses for winter effect, then cut back all except the evergreen varieties before new growth emerges in spring. The evergreen Festucas are compact and don’t need cutting, but you may want to rake them out in spring with your fingers to remove dried and dead leaves that have accumulated during the winter.

Transplant and divide grasses in the spring. If the grass spreads by rhizomes, it should be divided every year or so. Grasses that grow in clumps die out in the center after a few years and should be divided at that point.

It’s incredibly relaxing to watch ornamental grasses swaying in the breeze, and they are so pretty when added to flower arrangements.

For specific growing instructions for all the ornamental grasses that we offer at White Flower Farm, visit our website.