Looking for something easy to care for, low-maintenance with little-to-no insect or disease problems? Hardy ornamental grasses are a no-brainer addition to the landscape. Unassuming in spring and summer, they come into their own in time for a spectacular autumnal show. But which one is right for you?
At last count, we have 15 varieties to choose from and that's only a drop in an ocean of grasses out there. Read on to learn a little about a few of our favorites and their use in the landscape.
One of our favorites is Miscanthus sinensis 'Adagio' (shown above and featured in our Railroad garden here at BGC). It's fine foliage grows 36" in an arching habit. Seed heads mature to white. Intermingle several 'Adagios' with Russian Sage.
This upright clumping grass, Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' (Feather Reed Grass) is one of the earliest flowering grasses. It's biggest problem is that it's overused because we all like it so much! Calamagrostis 'Overdam' is similar yet it's variegated foliage sets it apart (see below). Use with lower mounding perennials like 'Autumn Joy' Sedum.
This group of shorter grasses are good for along walkways and front of the border. Pair them with taller perennials like coneflowers (Echinacea), Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia), and Asters.
48" and taller
'Red October' Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) has an upright habit up to 6'. Blue-green foliage has red tips that turn burgundy in August, then brilliant red after the first frost. Plant with shorter grasses and shrubs with mounding habits, goldenrod, helenium, and low-growing evergreens. photo source: songsparrow.com
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