The Best Ornamental Grasses for Unbeatable Texture
Versatile in any landscape, ornamental grasses can provide year-round charm. Here are some of the best varieties to bring texture and interest to your garden.
Feather Reed Grass
As the most popular of ornamental grasses, feather reed features a definite upright habit that looks incredible all winter long. Tough and large — it tops out at 6 feet tall — this grass tolerates a wide range of conditions. That being said, feather reed grows best in Zones 5-9 and prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
Gracefully shaped with feather-like plumes that play on the breeze, fountain grass is a beautiful, mounding plant that grows up to 5 feet tall. It thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, and is best suited for Zones 5-9.
With lovely gray-green leaf blades that become bold shades of red, purple and orange in the fall, bluestem is a prairie native that is surprisingly tough. A good plant for Zones 4-9, when placed in full sun and well-drained soil, it can grow up to 3 feet tall.
Switch grass is a native of the North American prairie and although it provides attractive airy plumes in late summer and fall, it looks incredible during the growing season as well. Several varieties, such as ‘Dallas Blues’, feature blue-gray foliage during the season that change to bold shades of red or gold in the autumn. Switch grass thrives in Zones 4-9 when planted in full sun or part shade and well-drained soil. It can get up to 5 feet tall.
Blue Oat Grass
For a low-care plant with striking color, it’s hard to beat blue oat grass. Steel-blue with a tidy mounded habit, there’s no danger of it spreading and taking over your garden. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to 4 feet tall. Consider it for Zones 4-9.
Beautiful and incredibly tough, purple millet is an annual grass that offers unusual burgundy foliage with rich purple plumes that look like fuzzy cattails. It attracts birds and can grow as tall as 5 feet. Purple millet thrives in full sun or part shade and prefers well-drained soil.
Cord grass makes a sound choice for growing alongside a pond or stream. A spreading prairie grass, this perennial thrives in moist or wet soil, and for some reason tends to be underutilized. It grows best in full sun and can get up to 7 feet tall. Cord grass is found in Zones 4-7.
Japanese Forest Grass
An excellent choice for a low-growing species, Japanese forest grass has a nearly-perfect mounding habit and only grows to a foot tall. Some variegated selections like ‘All Gold’ or ‘Aureola’ feature vibrantly colored foliage that brighten up shady corners. Plant this grass in part shade and well-drained soil. It thrives in Zones 5-9.
There is no question why maiden grass is one of the most common grasses — it is big, beautiful and easy to grow. It features narrow, arching foliage and silvery plumes that are captivating in the right light. Many selections are variegated, which will bring more color to your landscape. Grow maiden grass in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. It thrives in Zones 4-9 and can get up to 8 feet tall.
Fiber Optic Grass
Fiber optic grass is an unusual and compact perennial that is often grown as an annual. A tender plant, it features a fine texture and a low, mounding habit ideal for container gardens. Because of its compact nature, it’s also a good option for gardening in smaller spaces. Fiber optic grass prefers full sun or part shade and moist soil. It only grows to 6 inches tall. Plant it in Zones 10-11 or grow it as an annual in colder climates.
Fast-growing and enormous, this perennial features towering, silvery plumes that can reach 10 feet. Needless to say, ravenna grass makes a bold statement in the autumn landscape. Overall the plant can grow to be 12 feet tall. It thrives in full sun and well-drained soil, and is best suited for Zones 6-9.
Purple Fountain Grass
Burgundy-red foliage all season long makes purple fountain grass a gardener favorite everywhere. A tender perennial, it is frequently used in container gardens. In ideal conditions, which includes full sun and well-drained soil, it will get up to 3 feet tall. Consider it for Zones 9-10, or grow it as an annual in cooler climates.