Popular Ornamental Grasses for Fall Color and TextureBy Kathleen Marshall (KRMarshall)
October 16, 2013
Ornamental grasses really give you bang for your landscaping buck. Most will give you year round beauty, texture and color, and they require very little maintenance. What could be better than that?
Many ornamental grasses are tolerant to any soil type. They come in various heights to fit in any type of landscape or garden. You can even grow them in pots to create seasonal decorations that you can change as you desire and display them indoors or out.
Low Growing Grasses
Low growing ornamental grasses are great for edging, ground covers or container gardens. Sedge is one type of low growing ornamental grass. Blue sedge, for example, is a semi-evergreen with beautiful bluish-colored foliage that is also deer resistant. It gets 6 to 12 inches high. Orange New Zealand sedge is bright green and gradually turns orange by winter. Fox red curly sedge offers a red-bronze foliage that fades to a golden color at the tips. All offer deer resistance and unique color and texture.
Blue oat grass is another popular low grower reaching about 3 feet tall. It's blue-gray, fine foliage is stunning in the fall. In addition, blue oat grass provides lovely flowers in the summer months.
Dwarf fountain grass is another appealing choice. While standard fountain grasses reach 4 to 5 feet, dwarf varieties only reach 2 to 3 feet. It is gorgeous all year round and makes a real impact on the landscape.
Taller ornamental grasses make beautifully interesting hedges and privacy screens. Switchgrass comes in many varieties that turn into reds and oranges in the fall. Adagio maiden grass is another showy choice. Feathery pink-bronze plumes add texture, and foliage adds lots of fall and winter colors ranging from golds to oranges to wines. This is a nice one for indoor arrangements as well.
Feather reed grasses also make wonderful additions to cut flower arrangements indoors. Outdoors their summer flowers and feathery stalks that turn to shades of beige and gold in the fall make a brilliant display.
Care for Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses are great in rock gardens, near water features or in container gardens. You can find an ornamental grass for nearly any of your garden needs. You can choose from warm and cool season grasses and they are best planted in the spring. However, if you are designing a container for fall decorating, you can easily add ornamental grasses to it.
Most grasses prefer 3 to 5 hours of full sun a day. They are typically cut back in the spring before any new growth starts, so they stay showy and attractive in the fall and winter months, even when they are dried. Be careful when you cut it back, however; some grasses have sharp foliage so you'll want to wear gloves.
If your grasses start to look sparse in the center, or it is outgrowing the area you planted it in, you may need to divide the clump. Dig it up and divide it in the early spring before new growth starts.
Make sure each section has roots and plant in a sunny location.
Another bonus of ornamental grasses it that they rarely have pests to contend with. They also rarely need fertilizer. Most varieties are deer resistant as well. With so much to offer for so little effort, you may have a hard time stopping at one or two varieties. Have fun and experiment with different kinds to see what you like best.