The popularity of ornamental grass has soared over the last decade, as it is an inexpensive and low maintenance plant. Such plants add to the beauty of the garden as additional highlights for flowering plants and shrubs. They increase the aesthetics of the garden when planted in perennial beds, borders, and waterside gardens. And there is a wide variety of texture and size to choose from; fluffy, slender, broad-leafed, or bushy. Select one that suits your garden the best.
Types of Ornamental Grasses
Feather Reed Grass
This grass has more of a reedy texture than being feathery. It bears clumps of slender dark green leaves, that have a large number of stiff flower stalks that may grow 5 to 6 feet in height. This plant can grow in full sun or under shade as well. It is not fussy about the soil conditions too. However, its foliage grows in early spring or late winter when the weather is cooler. It bears flowers that bloom in the summer.
Northern Sea Oats
These grasses grow in clumps that are 3 to 4 feet in height, are well-suited for average soil conditions, and grow well in partly shady and partly sunny conditions. They bear short and broad leaves that grow at the base whereas clusters of flat seed heads are borne near the top of the grass stalks. The leaves and seeds, that are otherwise green in color, turn brown during fall and beige during winter.
This is a giant grass plant that requires plenty of space to grow. It requires full sun and grows well in average-to-dry soil. These are sturdy plants with broad arching leaves that grow up to a height of 6 feet. They have stiff stalks that grow up to 10 to 12 feet tall that bear stuffy seed heads. The Ravenna grass wears a rich green color through the summer. However, it turns completely tan during the winter months. They stand tall through winter winds and even in snow, and hence are preferred for winter gardens.
Miscanthus grows up to a height of 4 to 5 feet, and has a spread of 2 to 3 feet when mature. It grows well in well-drained soil and under full sun, although it can also grow in clayey soil as well. The most important consideration while growing this versatile grass is moisture. It is popular for its orange-red fall color. It bears medium green color blades with a reddish tinge that starts changing into a more reddish hue as the summer approaches. By fall, it adorns its orange-red color that gives its common name―'flame grass'. With its burgundy foliage and creamy-white seed plumes that grow well through winter months, they add a striking feature to a garden during the cold season.
Japanese Forest Grass
Also known as the Hakone grass, Japanese forest grass is a hardy ornamental grass for USDA zones 5 to 9. Although it is a spreading variety, it grows slowly and is more restricted in the area that it may spread out to. It grows to about 16 to 24 inches, with a spread of 18 to 24 inches. It has striking variegated golden leaves that tend to droop to one side. It grows well in shaded regions during the summer months, and under bright sunlight during the winter months. It requires moist, fertile, and humus-rich soil.
All Gold Grass
All gold grass is a dwarf variety of Japanese forest grass. It bears bamboo-like leaves that are bright gold in color under full sun, and yellowish green in shade. In the cooler days of autumn, the grass bears a striking reddish color inflorescence. When fully mature, it attains a height of 9 to 14 inches with a spread of 18 to 20 inches. It is a grass that grows at moderate rate. It is most suited to moist, well-drained, and fertile soil. Its golden foliage, that has a metal-like shiny quality, makes it stand out in the garden.
A Few Considerations
For easy maintenance, choose clump growing ornamental grasses than those of the spreading varieties. Avoid running or spreading grasses, like ribbon grass, unless you want to use the ornamental grass as ground cover.
Ornamental grasses do not require too much care. Once you have planted them in your garden you may be required to water them for a couple of months till they get established. They do not require fertilizers or pesticides to be added, although some might do good in humus-rich soil. However, it is always good to plant them with proper spacing in order to enable their distinctive forms to stand out.
Gardening ornamental grasses can increase the beauty of your garden manifold. Many wild grasses, like St. Augustine and Buffalo Grass, have made their way into gardens as ornamental grasses. With a wide variety to choose from, and also due to the fact that they require very little care, ornamental plants are becoming an asset for garden lovers.