Ornamental grasses add so much to a garden, bringing borders to life with their airy flower stems, softening paving and edging borders. There are grasses for sunny spots and grasses that will grow happily in part shade. Here are a few of our favourite ornamental grasses and how to care for them.
8 great ornamental grasses to grow
Miscanthus sinensis (Chinese silver grass) is an elegant deciduous grass with long arching leaves and tall silky purple-tinged flower spikes in late summer. Plant it in moist, well-drained fertile soil in full sun. It’s best in large borders, as it forms big, spreading clumps. Leave the dry foliage and flower stems to stand over winter and cut them down in early spring before the new foliage appears.
Calamagrostis (feather reed grass) has a distinctive narrow upright shape. It’s ideal for adding structure to borders and make a good screening plant in summer, growing in sun or partial shade. Leave the dry leaves and flower stems to stand in winter and cut down in early spring before the new foliage appears.
Pennisetum alopecuroides (fountain grass) is a wonderfully tactile deciduous grass, forming a mound of slender foliage and long stems with soft flower plumes that you can't help stroking. It’s not fully hardy, so it is best grown in mild areas or given a thick mulch in autumn to protect it through winter. Cut back old foliage in spring.
Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hair grass) is an evergreen grass with sprays of delicate flowerheads that float like a cloud above arching foliage. This is an easy-care grass that will grow in the sun or part shade and often self-seeds. Cut the faded flowerheads back in late winter.
Hakonechloa macra forms low mounds of foliage and looks great edging large borders, growing happily in part shade. Hakonechloa macra has deep green foliage, but there are also varieties with lime-green, golden green and variegated leaves. Cut back the old foliage and mulch in spring.
Carex oshimensis (sedge) forms compact clumps of foliage, ideal for lining paths or using as part of an evergreen display in a container. It also makes an excellent ground cover, and there are varieties to suit full sun or part shade. Comb out the dead foliage in spring.
Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (black mondo grass) is a compact, low-growing grass that looks great in contemporary gardens, striking black foliage softening, paving edges the occasional purple flower spikes adding a touch of colour. Plant it amongst lighter-coloured foliage to set off its dramatic colouring.
Festuca glauca (blue fescue) is another colourful small grass that works well in a contemporary setting. Its steel-blue evergreen foliage also combines well with more traditional plants like lavender. For the best colour, plant it in full sun, and comb through with your hands in spring to remove old foliage.
Visit our centre today to see our exciting range of ornamental grasses and other plants. We’re sure you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for!