Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Ornamental Grasses that Stay Put

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Karl Foerster feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’)

Sometimes gardeners avoid ornamental grasses, believing they are too invasive. And it is true that many grasses have creeping rhizomes and a wandering habit, requiring good control. But others grow in dense clumps and remain where you put them in the garden. That doesn’t mean they won’t grow over time and need to be divided when the plant takes up too much space (that’s to be expected from any perennial), but you can hardly describe these grasses as invasive.

Here are a few examples:

Acorus gramineus (grassy-leaved sweet flag) zone 5

Andropogon gerardii (big blustem) zone 3

Briza media (quaking grass) zone 4

Calamagrostis x acutiflora (feather reed grass), zone 4

Carex caryophyllea ‘The Beatles’ (spring sedge) zone 5

Carex elata ‘Bowles’ Golden’ (Bowles’ golden sedge) zone 4

Carex morrowii (Japanese sedge) zone 5

Carex muskingumensis (palm sedge) zone 4

Chasmanthium latifolium (northern sea oats) zone 5

Deschampsia caespitosa (tufted hair grass) zone 3

Fargesia spp. (hardy clumping bamboo) zone 4

Festuca glauca and others (blue fescue) zone 4

Hakonechloa macra (Japanese forest grass) zone 5

Helictotrichon sempervirens (blue oat grass) zone 4

Koeleria glauca (blue haïr grass) zone 4

Luzula spp. (wood-rush) zone 4

Milium effusum ‘Aureum’ (golden wood millet) zone 5

Miscanthus purpurascens (purple eulalia) zone 4

Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia) zones 4-5

Molinia caerulea (purple moor grass) zone 4

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) zone 4

Pennisetum alopecuroides (fountain grass) zone 5

Sesleria autumnalis (autumn moor grass) zone 5

Sorghastrum nutans (indian grass) zone 4

Spodiopogon sibiricus (frost grass) zone 4

Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed) zone 4

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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