Enliven Your Landscape

Perennial Of The Week: Ornamental Grasses

Bring motion to your garden with ornamental grasses that move gracefully in the breeze. Ornamental grasses, which can range in height from 12 inches to 10 feet, provide interest in multiple seasons, including winter, need very little or no fertilizer, and do not need to be mowed. Grasses are notably drought and salt tolerant, and resist disease, pests, and browsing by deer.

Rohsler’s Grown ornamental grasses include approximately 100 varieties that thrive in a variety of locations. Some enjoy sun, while others perform well in shade or partial shade. About half of the varieties we grow are native species. As you select your favorites, keep in mind that grasses fall into two general categories: cool season grasses and warm season grasses.

Cool season grasses actively grow when temperatures are cooler in fall and spring, and even produce roots during the winter. Many of these grow well in the shade, and are semi-evergreen to evergreen.

Warm season grasses usually crave full sun, and bloom during the late summer and fall.

Our collection of Rohsler’s Grown ornamental grasses includes Maiden Grass, Moor Grass, Fountain Grass, Muhly Grass, Switchgrass, Little & Big Bluestem, Reed Grass, and more. Check for your favorites in the terra cotta pots bearing the Rohsler’s Grown logo. Then learn more about some varieties you may not have seen before.

Keep in mind that ornamental grasses make excellent companion plants for bulbs and ephemerals (plants that bloom and “disappear” back into the ground after spring for a summer dormancy). Extend the life of your garden by combining ornamental grasses with Virginia Bluebells, Shooting Star, Allium or spring-blooming bulbs that are taking their final bow of the year.

Cool season grasses add life to a bulb garden that includes miniature Daffodils, Crocus, Iris reticulata, Siberian Squill, Glory of the Snow, and more.

We recommend that you do not cut your ornamental grasses before winter arrives. In addition to providing seasonal interest and habitat for wildlife, the old foliage protects the crown of the plant. Keeping your plants uncut prevents the “doughnut effect” that results when the center of a plant dies due to excessive moisture and freezing in the crown and rootstock, which causes the grass to grow up in a circle around the dead spot.

Tip: If the foliage becomes unsightly, simply fold it down to the ground.

Sesleria, a shorter, cool season grass, will do well in part sun to part shade and performs admirably in the driest of places. Its early season flowers are also welcome when spring bulbs are starting to bloom.

When selecting ornamental grasses, remember that the blooms and seed heads may be much taller than the plant’s foliage. However, many of these blooms can provide a see-through, transparent element in the landscape.

Pink Muhly Grass is a late-blooming ornamental with airy pink blooms that pair beautifully with Echinacea seed heads and fall-blooming Sedum.

We have the very best selection of ornamental grasses in the area and all are grown at our nursery. Stop by today to learn more about these versatile plants. We’ll see you soon!

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