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Growing and Care Guides for
Popular types of Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are available in a wide array of colors, shapes, textures and sizes. The flowers and subsequent seed heads are equally diverse, ranging from "ho-hum" to truly spectacular.
Each grass species has it's own unique form. They may form low compact mounds, tall screens, or densely spreading mats. The foliage colors include various shades of green, blue and red, as well as variegated varieties having red, white or yellow foliage banded with ivory or yellow stripes. In the fall, the spring and summer colors change to hues of red, beige, or brown, providing a great winter garden accent.
Ornamental grasses can be used as fillers or specimens, border plants or background plantings, as ground covers or screens, or they can be grown as container plants.
Their adaptability and subtle beauty make them perfect companions to flowering plants and other woody ornamentals.
This plant grows best with full sun for most of the day
This plant grows best with full sun for most of the day
This plant requires shade during the heat of the day
This plant requires shade during the heat of the day
This plant may not tolerate any direct sunlight
This plant may not tolerate any direct sunlight
Some or all parts of this plant may be toxic or poisonous
Some or all parts of this plant may be toxic or poisonous
Once established these plants require little supplemental wateringOnce established this plant requires little or no supplemental watering This plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant tolerates drought, but benefits from periodic watering This plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsThis plant requires a thorough, deep weekly watering This plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsThis plant grows best in boggy or wet conditions
Hummingbird Plant
Hummingbirds use this plant for food or shelter
Butterfly Flower
Butterflies use this plant for food or shelter
Bird Plant or Flower
Birds use this plant for food or shelter
No Deer
This plant is less likely to attract or be eaten by deer

Ornamental Grass Growing Guides

Common Name Botanical Name Height Plant Characteristics and Notes USDA
Zones
Growing Requirements
Benefits
Photo
American Dune Grass Leymus racemosus 'Glaucus' 2-3 ft. American Dune Grass is a valuable plant for the prevention of the wind eroding your soil due to its rhizomatous spreading habit 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Yellow flowering plant
 
Big Bluestem Andropogon gerardii 4-7 ft. Big Bluestem forms large clumps of stiff silvery green to blue foliage, turning to a copper color in fall 4-10 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Red flowering plantPurple flowering plant
 
Black Mondo Grass Ophiopogon planiscapus 6-12" Black Mondo Grass grows as neat, slowly spreading, 4" tufts of ¼" wide, sweetly fragrant, straplike leaves. New foliage emerges dark green in spring then changes to dark purplish-black by summer.Loose spikes of small, light pink or white, bell shaped flowers appear in mid summer. 5-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
No Deer
White flowering plantPink flowering plant
A photograph of Ophiopogon planiscapus is available
Blue Clumping Wheatgrass Elymus magellanicus 1-2 ft. Blue Clumping Wheatgrass is a clump forming plant with bright metallic blue foliage, producing taller stems of small blue flowers in early summer 5-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
orange flowering plant
 
Blue Fescue Festuca glauca 8-12" Blue Fescue is a durable plant that grows in clumping mounds of fine blue foliage. They tend to die out in the center after a couple years and will need to be divided 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
blue flowering plant
 
Blue Oat Grass Helictotrichon sempervirens 2-3 ft. Blue Oat Grass is an easily maintained and durable, clump forming plant with coarse, silver blue foliage 4-8 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Burgundy flowering plant
 
Blue Sedge Carex flacca 6-18" Blue Sedge produces slow spreading clumps of fine blue foliage. Great as a ground cover plantor for growing in a container. 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Burgundy flowering plant
 
Bronze Sedge Carex comans 'Bronze Form' 1-2 ft. Bronze Sedge forms dense tufts of fine bladed bronze colored foliage. It is a good ornamental grass for growing in containers 7-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Burgundy flowering plant
A photograph of Carex comans is available
Corkscrew Rush Juncus effusus 'Spiralis' 1-2 ft. The Corkscrew Rush is a slow growing rush known for its wild, corkscrewing foliage. It is easily grown in wet soils, including up to four inches of standing water 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Red flowering plant
 
Curly Top Sedge Carex buchananii 1-2 ft. Curly Top Sedge is a very versatile grass, due to its ability to tolerate most growing conditions. Stiff bronze red foliage 6-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Yellow flowering plant
 
Dwarf Fountain Grass Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln' 12-24" Dwarf Fountain Grassis the earliest cultivar of true Fountain Grass. It will grow in any type of soil as long as it drains. Pinkish white flower bristles on 30"stems 5-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
White flowering plant
A photograph of Pennisetum alopecuroides is available
Feather Reed Grass Calamagrostis acutiflora 5-7 ft. Feather Reed Grass is fairly drought resistant and tolerates a wide range of garden soils. It is deer resistant plant 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
No Deer
White flowering plantRed flowering plantYellow flowering plant
 
Flame Grass Miscanthus purpurascens 4-5 ft. Flame Grass is an easy to grow, clumping grass. The coloration of its red foliage intensifies as the summer progresses, turning into a flaming reddish orange in the fall. 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
White flowering plantPink flowering plantYellow flowering plant
 
Fountain grass Pennisetum alopecuroides 2-3 ft. Fountain grass slowly grows in a compact clump that will stay as wide as it grows tall. Arching spikes of 12" purplish-cream flower bristles throughout the summer 6-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
White flowering plantPink flowering plantPurple flowering plant
A photograph is available
Giant Feather Grass Stipa gigantea 3-4 ft. Giant Feather Grass forms a large, loose clump of greyish-green foliage. Seven foot arching stems of tan flower spikes persist through the summer months. Needs well drained soil 6-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Yellow flowering plant
 
Giant Reed Grass Arundo donax 'Versicolor' 5-12 ft. Giant Reed Grass produces large green stalks with white stripes. It is good for background plantings 7-10 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
White flowering plant
 
Giant Silver Grass Miscanthus 'Giganteus' 8-12 ft. Giant Silver Grass grows into a massive upright clump that performs equally well as a background planting or as a specimen in the center of your yard 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
White flowering plantRed flowering plant
 
Golden Foxtail Grass Alopecurus pratensis 'Aureovariegatus' 12-18" Soft yellowish green with a golden stripe. This ornamental grass is NOT related to Foxtail barley grass! 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Yellow flowering plantPurple flowering plantGreen flowering plant
 
Golden Japanese Forest Grass Hakonechloa macra 2 ft. Forest Grass is a slowing plant with gracefully arching, green and gold bamboo like foliage 4-9 This plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Green flowering plant
 
Gold Fountain Grass Carex dolichostachya 1-2 ft. Gold Fountain Grass produces mounds of slender green grass-like leaves with borders tinged in gold. Prefers rich organic soils 6-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Brown flowering plant
 
Japanese Sedge Grass Carex morrowii 'Variegata' 1 ft. Japanese Sedge Grass is a semi-evergreen vigorous grower that will grow in full shade and even tolerates full sun in cool climates. This sedge is great for growing in container. 5-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Brown flowering plant
 
Korean Feather Reed Grass Calamagrostis brachytricha 2-3 ft. This Feather Reed is a slow spreading, clump forming, narrow foliaged grass that produces plumes of pink flowers in late summer 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Pink flowering plantblue flowering plant
 
Lime-green Sedge Carex comans 'Frosted Curls' 1 ft. Frosted Curls produces compact clumps of fine silvery green foliage with curly ends. It is deer resistant plant and will tolerate wet conditions 7-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
No Deer
Silver flowering plant
 
Little Bluestem Grass Schizachyrium scoparium 2-4 ft. Little Bluestem Grass forms dense clumps of fine textured foliage. The flower stem will grow to 30" tall before displaying its burgundy flower spray. Little Bluestem is a larval host for many species of butterflies and provides nesting material and seed for birds. 3-8 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Butterfly FlowerBird Plant or Flower
Red flowering plant
 
Maiden Grass Miscanthus sinensis 5-6 ft. Maiden grass forms a nice rounded clump of fine textured foliage and a graceful, rounded form. Plumes of flowers on 7 foot stalks in the Fall 5-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Pink flowering plant
 
Mexican Feather Grass Stipa tenuissima 1-2 ft. Mexican Feather Grass forms compact clumps of fine, thread-like foliage. Produces a a profusion of feather-like, yellowish green flower panicles all summer. Deer resistant 7-10 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
No Deer
Green flowering plantBrown flowering plant
 
Mondo Grass Ophiopogon japonicus 6-10" Mondo grass slowly forms tight, 24" matted clumps of 8"-12" long, 1/8" wide, bright green, grass-like foliage.
Spikes of small, lavender or light purple flowers appear in the late summer
6-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Purple flowering plant
A photograph of Ophiopogon japonicus is available
Moon Grass Molinia arundinacea 2-3 ft. Moon Grass forms large upright, compact clumps of dark green foliage that turns gold in the Fall. Showy seven foot spikes of translucent maroon flowers at mid-summer 4-8 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Purple flowering plant
 
Moor Grass Molinia caerulea 12-18" Moor grass is slow to get established, bit its compact foliage makes it a perfect ground cover plant for wet, acidic soil. Suitable for growing in a planter. 5-8 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Yellow flowering plant
 
Orange New Zealand Sedge Carex testacea 1-2 ft. The fine orangeish-brown foliage of the Orange New Zealand Sedge is unpopular with some gardeners who think it makes the plant look dead. Deer resistant 7-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
No Deer
 
Palm Sedge Carex muskingumensis 2-3 ft. Palm Sedge has an interesting whorling habit to its growth. The tips of the light green foliage branch to resemble tiny Palm trees. Deer resistant 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
No Deer
Yellow flowering plant
 
Pampas Grass Cortaderia selloana 8-10 ft. Pampas Grass is an impressive, fast growing plant due to its size and durability as well as its large plumes of showy white to pink flowers (Cortaderia selloana 'Rosea'). Once it becomes well established, it is very drought tolerant and nearly indestructible plant. 7-10 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayOnce established this plant requires little or no supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
No Deer
White flowering plantPink flowering plant
A photograph is available
Purple Fountain Grass Pennisetum setaceum 12-18" Purple Fountain Grass forms tufts of short, rigid stems topped by long, bronze colored blades of grass. 12" purplish pink flower spikes. Often grown as an annual 9-10 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Red flowering plantPurple flowering plant
A photograph is available
Quaking Grass Briza media 1-2 ft. Quaking Grasses are relatively disease and pest free. It produces tiny purple, orchid-like flowers 5-8 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Yellow flowering plantPurple flowering plant
 
Ravenna Grass Saccharum ravennae 9-12 ft. Ravenna Grass is often called Hardy Pampas Grass because of their similarities. It forms a large clump of ¾ wide greyish green blades. Pinkish flower spikes may reach 12 ft. Avoid fertilizing and excess watering to keep the plant compact 6-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Purple flowering plant
 
Ribbon Grass Phalaris arundinacea 3 ft. Ribbon grass can quickly become invasive if it is not controlled or grown in a a container. It can be planted directly in your pond or added to your bog garden. Variegated green and white foliage 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Green flowering plant
A photograph is available
Snowy Woodrush Luzula nivea 1-2 ft. Snowy Woodrush forms loose clumps of dark green foliage and masses of white flowers in spring and early summer. It is useful as a ground cover. 5-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions  
Spangle Grass Chasmanthium latifolium 3 ft. Spangle Grass is a clump forming plant that produces gracefully nodding clusters of unique flat seed heads. Nice Fall color 5-9 This plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Bird Plant or Flower
 
Sweetgrass Hierochloe odorata 1-2 ft. Sweetgrass has a very distinct scent and is easy to grow, but can become invasive so it should be grown in a container. The grass blades are sometimes braided and used as incense 2-6 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering  
Switch Grass Panicum virgatum 5 ft. There are many cultivars of Switch Grass offering a variety of foliage colors and variations but their care is the same. Switch Grass is a larval host for some butterflies and provides seed for ground feeding birds. 5-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering
Butterfly FlowerBird Plant or Flower
 
Tufted Hair Grass Deschampsia cespitosa 2-3 ft. Tufted Hair Grass is a semi evergreen plant that has a wide range of cultivars in colors from creamy white to green and bronze 4-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions  
Umbrella Grass Cyperus Alternifolius 3-4 ft. Umbrella Grass is a native of the swamps of Madagascar. It is a close relative of the Papyrus Plant. Thrives in wet areas 9-10 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditionsThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions A photograph is available
Woodrush Luzula sylvatica 1-2 ft. Woodrush is an easy to grow and durable, slow growing grass-like plant that will even survive in dry shade. Variegated varieties are available 4-9 This plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic watering  
Yellow Sedge Carex flava 18-30" Although it is not commonly grown as ornamental, Yellow Sedge is durable and adaptable. It has yellow striped foliage, and produces seed for the birds winter feeding. 4-8 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant requires or will tolerate shade during the heat of the dayThis plant may not tolerate any direct sunlightOnce established these plants require little supplemental wateringThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions
Bird Plant or Flower
 
Zebra Grass Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' 5-7 ft. Zebra Grass grows as an upright clump of coarse, gold speckled leaves. Fairly drought tolerant and grows in a wide range of soil types but does best in rich, moist soil 5-9 This plant grows best with full sun for most of the dayThis plant will tolerate some drought, but benefits from periodic wateringThis plant needs a thorough, deep weekly watering, Double icons require boggy or wet conditions