Ornamental grasses add a beauty and elegance to the garden unmatched by other plants. They provide texture, color, sound and movement. They can act to unite a design when planted en masse or serve as a singular dramatic punctuating accent.
Sturdy and fast growing, they survive a wide variety of conditions, taking wind and salt air. Most varieties prefer average, well drained soil and full sun but will tolerate partial shade. They emerge from dormancy in March/April, grow throughout the summer and flower in late summer/fall. Cut back foliage to the ground in November/December for the winter.
For more detailed information about each plant, please refer to individual cultivar signs, or consult one of Swanson’s nursery professionals.
Calamgrostis x 'Karl Foerster' 5-6 feet high, 2-3 feet w.
Upright with narrow, green leaves. June bloom. Holds flowers throughout summer.
NORTHERN SEA OATS
Chasmanthium latifolium 3 feet h., 2 feet w.
Upright green leaves. Unique flattened seed heads. Aug-Sept.
JAPANESE FOREST GRASS
Hakonechloa macra and cultivars
Mounding clumps, curving gracefully. Part shade/Shade. Aug-Sept.
H. macra 'Aureola' Gold variegated leaves. 2 feet h., 2-3 feet w.
H. macra 'All Gold' Fully gold leaves. 2 feet h., 2-3 feet w.
H. macra 'Beni kazi' Green leaves turn red in fall. 2 feet h., 2-3 feet w
Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron' 1-2 feet h., 2 feet w.
Upright in shades of red, light green. Plant in groups. Moist soil.
Miscanthus ssp. and cultivars
Numerous cultivars varying in form texture and flower. Aug-Oct. Average to moist soil.
M. sinensis 'Gracillimus' Thin blade white center. 5-6 feet h., 2-3 feet w.
M. sinensis 'Morning Light' Thin blade white edge. 5-6 feet h., 2-3 feet w.
M. sinensis 'Gold Bar' Heavily variegated gold horizontal bands. 4-5 feet h., 2-3 feet w.
Molinia ssp. and cultivars
Mounded and upright forms with spiky flowerheads. Average to moist soil.
Molinia caerulea 'Variegata' Low arching, dark purple flowers. Moist. Aug-Oct. 2 feet h., 2 feet w.
Panicum virgatum and cultivars
Upright with cloudlike flowers Aug-Sept. Average to dry soil.
P. v. 'Northwind' Narrow upright. 4-5 feet h., 2-3 feet w.
P. v. 'Shenandoah' Red accents mid summer to fall. 3 feet h., 2-3 feet w.
Pennisetum ssp. and cultivars
Arching foliage, foxtail flowers Aug-Sept. Average to dry soil.
P. a. 'Hameln' Dwarf form.Tan foxtail flowers late summer/fall. 2 feet h., 2 feet w.
P. a. 'Burgundy Bunny Dwarf. Red foliage accents summer/fall. 1.5 feet h.,1-2 feet w.
P. orientale 'Karly Rose' Smokey rose-purple flowers mid summer to fall. 3-4 feet h., 2-3 feet w.
Schizachrium ssp. and cultivars
Midwest prairie native, upright, architectural form. upright flowers Sept-Oct.
Schizachyrium scoparium 'Blaze' Blue-green foliage, red-orange fall color. 3 feet h., 2 feet w.
S. scoparium 'Standing Ovation’ Blue leaves, red-burgundy fall color. 3-4 feet h., 1.5 feet w.
PRUNING NON-EVERGREEN GRASSES
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.