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

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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