What's the best approach for identifying ornamental grasses?

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

My neighbor has a number of ornamental grasses that I'd like to identify (in part because they are reseeding into my yard!). For example, she has some plants that I am quite sure are Miscanthus sinensis. But I'd like to know the cultivar. I have an "encyclopedia" of ornamental grasses, but it doesn't give as much detail as I would like. Any suggestions as to books that would help me?

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

That's tough, because there are several cultivars of miscanthus that are very similar, but bloom time, width and height are the distinctions, along with width of stripe. And many have been produced, for marketing purposes, that are similar to older cultivars (many of which are actually better). I have several encyclopedias, but they don't really help,

If hers are older, say ten years, and very fine, they are probably gracillimus, which many consider to be the best. I love this grass to death. It's the one featured in Japanese paintings. It's really never been topped. It blooms in October, has burgundy plumes, and is 30 inches across the bottom.

Pic 1 is in July
Pic 2 is in October, when it blooms. This is 8. Is there anything like this in her yard?

But grass that quite often seeds, and which is widely available, a little older, and which landscapers put in, is Silberfeder. It's 60 inches across the base, and has a slight tendency to flop.

Pic 3 is in July. It's on the right. This is 1. It's huge.
Pic. 4 is in September, in the center, when it blooms.


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Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Donna -- you have saved me once again. I think it must be gracillimus. Some of the blooms are on the white side; others have more color. It isn't flopping. But it definitely reseeds, because some large plants are now growing in my yard which I definitely didn't plant, and I'm worried that it is going to take over!

I took some photos. I haven't downloaded them yet and I don't know if they are any good, but if they are I'll post them.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Do send me the pics. The blooms turn white after they mature.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Ahh -- I hadn't been watching them -- I thought the purple ones were the mature ones (white to purple) -- I guess it is the reverse (purple to white).

The attached pictures are not great -- but it is not dark AND rainy, so I can't do any better for the moment!

I looked again at your pictures -- I'm still not certain. I'll take a measuring tape to it tomorrow.

This message was edited Oct 15, 2012 5:43 PM

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