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Select & Grow Ornamental Grasses

Select & Grow Ornamental Grasses

Perennials being hybridized rapidly. The sheer number of Hostas and Daylilies on the market today attests to the desire for more and more choice. One group of perennials that continues to draw attention for its diversity of colour, form, and texture are Ornamental Grasses.

How to Select

Ornamental Grasses come in every size from a 15 cm (6″) Fescue to a 2.5 m (8′) Miscanthus.

  • Colour varies from the intense blue of Lyme Grass and Blue Oat Grass to the striking red of Japanese Blood Grass.
  • Soft, arching form is represented by Fountain Grass while Feather Reed Grass is upright and cylindrical.
  • Some Grasses are shade-tolerant like the Golden Variegated Hakonechloa while others can endure wet soil such as Ribbon Grass.

lyme grass


  • Ornamental Grasses can be used individually or massed in groups of odd numbers.
  • They can be incorporated into any mixed or perennial border where they provide immediate contrast.
  • They combine elegantly with evergreens because their textures are so diverse.
  • Smaller varieties can also be used as a groundcover, edging plant, or even in a container.
  • Taller grasses can be planted at the back of a border as a soft backdrop to anything grown in front, or as a privacy screen.

Four Season Interest

Ornamental Grasses are valuable components in a garden where you need winter interest in addition to the other 3 seasons. Grasses aren’t trimmed back until spring to promote new growth. Because of this, their dry, tanned foliage and waving seed heads add a graceful, structural element to an otherwise barren landscape.

fountain grass

How to Grow

In April, Grasses are trimmed back close to the ground and very quickly, a new plant will begin to emerge. Based on their growth style, Grasses fall into 2 basic groups.

  • The cool season Grasses take off quickly in early spring and achieve their full size before the heat of summer hits. They are usually the low to medium-sized plants and can sometimes brown out in hot weather. If this should happen, trim them back in July to encourage lush new growth for fall. You can create additional plants for other parts of your garden by splitting them with a sharp spade in late summer or early spring.
  • The warm season Grasses are spectacular for the late summer and fall garden with their distinctive clusters of tiny flowers called “florescence” that wave softly at the end of long stems. They flourish in warm temperatures and generally like lots of light. This group can be divided in early spring only.

All this information, as well as mature size, zone hardiness, soil and light preference, how to plant, where to plant, and major attributes like colour and form, is clearly indicated on the tag that comes with each Ornamental Grass!