Evergreen Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses are valuable for their texture, architectural structure, motion, and the natural feel they give in the garden.
The majority of ornamental grasses are deciduous, turning color in autumn, dying back and appearing again the following spring. This list, however, covers those grasses which remain evergreen throughout winter, making them extremely useful in high visibility areas and in containers.
(S) Indicates adaptability to shade or partial shade.
SEDGE - Carex SPECIES & CULTIVARS
LEATHER LEAF CURLY SEDGE (S)
Carex buchananii 24 inches high, 24 inches wide
Upright, bronze leaves with curly tops.
Carex albula 'Frosty Curls' (S) 12 inches high, 18 inches wide
Silvery mound with curly-tipped leaves.
Carex flagellifera (S) 18 inches high, 24 inches wide
Finely textured, warm bronze foliage with mounding form.
ORANGE SEDGE (S)
Carex testacea 18 inches high, 24 inches wide
Olive green foliage with orange tips in winter.
Carex morrowii ‘Evergold’ (aka ‘Aureo-variegata’) (S) 12 inches high, 24 inches wide
Gold and green variegated foliage with mounded form.
PAMPAS GRASS - Cortaderia SPECIES & CULTIVARS
Cortaderia selloana 6 feet high, 5 feet wide
Huge clumps of long, slender foliage with showy white plumes.
DWARF PAMPAS GRASS
Cortaderia selloana 'Pumilla' 4 feet high, 3 feet wide
Dwarf form with compact habit and profuse bloom.
WOOD RUSH - Luzula SPECIES AND CULTIVARS
SNOWY WOOD RUSH (S)
Luzula nivea 24 inches high, 12 inches wide
Dark green, arching clump with white flowers.
GREATER WOOD RUSH (S)
Luzula sylvatica 12 inches high, 12 inches wide
Shiny green foliage, arching clump.
Luzula sylvatica 'Marginata' 12 inches high, 12 inches wide
Shiny green, arching leaves with thin white margins.
Luzula sylvatica 'Aurea' 12 inches high, 12 inches wide
Shiny golden, arching leaves. Best color in a sunny location.
MONDO GRASS - Ophiopogon SPECIES & CULTIVARS
MONDO GRASS (S)
Ophiopogon japonicus 12 inches high, 12 inches wide
Slender, shiny, dense growth. Spreads by runners
DWARF MONDO GRASS (S)
Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nanus' 3 inches high, 12 inches wide
Slender, shiny, dense, low-growing form. Spreads by runners.
BLACK MONDO GRASS (S)
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' 8 inches high, 12 inches wide
Jet-black leaves. Slow-spreading by runners.
MISCELLANEOUS SPECIES & CULTIVARS
PHEASANT TAIL GRASS
Anemanthelle lessoniana 24 inches high, 24 inches wide
Green turning to rusty orange in cold weather. Fluffy seed heads. Self seeds readily!
Festuca ovina glauca 'Elijah Blue', ‘Boulder Blue’, ‘Beyond Blue’ 10 inches high, 10 inches wide
Bright blue foliage, tufted form. Self seeds.
BLUE OAT GRASS
Helictotrichon sempervirens 24 inches high, 36 inches wide
Intense blue, spikey foliage with rounded form. Oat-like flowers.
GIANT FEATHER GRASS
Stipa gigantea 18 inches high, 36 inches wide
Bright green, low mound with stunning 6-foot high flower spikes.
Juncus effusus ‘Quartz Creek’ 12-18 inches high, 12 inches wide
Bright green leaves radiate needle-like form the base. Needs moisture to look best.
Juncus patens 'Occidental Blue', ‘Elk’s Blue’ 12-18 inches high, 12 inches wide
Blue-gray leaves radiate needle-like from base. Needs moisture to look best.
PRUNING ORNAMENTAL GRASSES
Evergreen Grasses are generally pruned in late February/early March if needed. These include most forms of Acorus, Anemanthele, Carex, Cortaderia, Festuca, Juncus, Helictotrichon, Liriope, Luzula, Nasella and Stipa.
It is best to prune back by 3/4 to remove old leaves and stimulate new growth. Pruning more than this is generally not recommended. Pampas grass can be cut back to 18 inches if necessary. Non evergreen, deciduous grasses are annually pruned to the ground in November/December or by mid February of the following spring at the latest. This removes all of the previous year’s growth
before new leaves begin to emerge.
These include Calamagrostis, Hakonechloa, Imperata, Miscanthus, Molinia, Panicum and Pennisetum.
New Zealand Flax should be cut only if damaged in winter freezes. Otherwise, whole individual leaves should be removed to the base of the plant to control width or to eliminate unsightly leaves. Fertilize with an All Purpose Organic Fertilizer every 3rd month beginning in March.