24 Apr

Lagurus ovatus, Bunny Tails Ornamental Grass

Lagurus ovatus or Bunny Tails Grass is a lovely ornamental grass known for its puffy white flowers that resemble a bunny’s tail. This beautiful annual grass can be grown along garden borders or pathways, as an accent plant in the garden or an ornamental grass in xeriscapes.

Lagurus ovatus

Lagurus ovatus / Image via faroutflora.wordpress.com

Bunny Tails grows as a compact ornamental grass growing up to 20 inches high and about 1 foot wide. The blades are soft and about 1.5 foot in length. The ornamental value of this lovely grass is because of its fluffy, white oval flowers that start appearing in early summer. Bunny tails flowers assume tan color as they enter the fall season arrives. The flowers start to dry out at this time. You can keep them on the grass for winter interest. Stalks with dried fluffy flowers can also be removed and used in dry flower arrangement.

How to Grow Bunny Tails Ornamental Grass

Bunny Tails Grass

Bunny Tails Grass / Image by Mollivan Jon (flickr)

Bunny Tails can be propagated from seeds (Buy Seeds Online) collected from dried flowers. Seeds can be sown in spring. Plants grown from seeds take 1 to 2 year to attain the maximum size.

Bunny Tails grass comes from Mediterranean climates where it thrives in a rather dry climate. When grown in gardens or landscapes, provide it sunny exposure and water moderately. Bunny Tails prefers sandy soil that does not retain water. It is a drought-tolerant grass. Water it thoroughly in summer and then allow the soil to completely dry before watering next. When temperature falls, water sparsely.

02 Sep

Nice Ornamental Grass: Hystrix patula, Bottlebrush Grass

Hystrix patula, commonly known as Bottlebrush Grass, is a beautiful ornamental grass known for its attractive flowers. Also sold as Elymus hystrix, the Bottlebrush grass is rightly named for its long floral spikes that remind you of a bristled bottlebrush.

Hystrix patula is a tall grass that grows up to 1 meter and produces clumps of light-green leaves making it a nice ornamental grass for borders and flower beds. Green bristly flower heads appear in summer and last until fall. When in full bloom, Hystrix patula is loaded with bottlebrush-like flowers that stand out from its companions because of their attractive colors and unusual shape.

Ornamental Grass, Hystrix patula, Bottlebrush

Hystrix patula can be grown in almost any soil (loamy, chalky or sandy) as long as it is provided with moist but well-drained conditions.  As a low-maintenance ornamental grass, Hystrix patula requires full to partial shade and grows easily from seeds.

Like most ornamental grasses, Hystrix patula is a pest free grass and grows well with accompanying plants in a border or a flower bed. More information on growing and maintaining as an ornamental grass is available here: Hystrix patula, the Bottlebrush Grass

Also see:

18 May

Ornamental Grass for Containers: Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ is a popular ornamental grass for growing in containers as well as in garden landscapes. This lovely grass is commonly known as Ribbon Grass because its green leaves and beautifully stripped in contrasting white or cream.

Ornamental grass for containers

Phalaris arundinace ‘Picta’ / Image by F. D. Richards

How to Grow Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ makes a nice choice when you want to cover slopes or empty spaces in your garden landscape. It spreads quick and easily when grown in a sunny spot and provided with moist soil. Therefore it makes a nice ornamental grass when grown around ponds or under shady trees (it grows slowly under shade).

Like most ornamental grasses, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ can be easily divided from rhizomes. The best time of the year for planting ribbon grass is spring or fall when you can take out healthy rhizomes from the root zone and plant them in to the ground or containers. If you do not have plenty of space to accommodate this spreading grass, grow it in containers as evergreen ornamental plant. Otherwise invasive, ribbon grass is easy to maintain and control in containers. Usually a 5 gallon container is a good size. When allowed to grow freely in the ground, Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ can grow up to 3 feet in height and spread from 3 to 4 feet across. Be careful when you are planting ribbon grass with other plants because of its rapid spreading and sometimes invasive root system.

Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’ is a low-maintenance grass. It is generally a pest-free grass that requires regular watering and light pruning in midsummer to encourage fresh growth.

04 Nov

Ornamental Grass for Gardens and Landscapes: Festuca glauca

The plant featured today is Festuca glauca – a low maintenance and lovely ornamental grass. It is a semi-evergreen grass that forms tight mounds of silver-blue foliage. The needle-like foliage of Festuca glauca changes it colors from blue-green to silver-blue and from steel-blue to brown throughout the year. Because of unusual texture and color of its foliage, and attractive tufted shape of the plant, It has become a popular grass for gardens and landscapes. It is often mass planted in rock gardens or mixed with succulents to form beautiful landscape designs.

Festuca glauca

Festuca glauca can also be grown in containers, garden borders or simply as a pot plant. The ornamental value of this lovely grass is doubled by its delicate inflorescence.

How to Grow Festuca glauca

Festuca glauca requires a well-drained soil under partial sun. It has tremendous ability to survive long spells of drought. In colder climates, the foliage is usually cut back in harsh winter in order to get fresh foliage in spring.

Landscaping with Festuca glauca

Festuca glauca can grow up to 10 inches and is easily propagated from clumps divided from the mother plant. When grown in pots, it should be repotted every 3 to 4 years or transferred to ground permanently.

Festuca glauca - Ornamental Grass

Popular varieties of Festuca glauca include: F. glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, F. glauca ‘Blue Glow’, and F. glauca ‘Blaufuchs’.

12 Dec

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’: the Japanese Bloodgrass

The lovely plant in the picture is Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ – a perennial grass with beautifully colored and textured blades. Commonly known as Japanese Bloodgrass, this ornamental grass is an excellent choice for creating dramatic effects in any garden.

Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ (Buy online) forms dense clumps of strappy leaves that grow up to 5 feet. The silvery-green foliage has margin of bright red color that make it an excellent ornamental grass for gardens and landscapes. It is usually mixed borders or grown along flower beds to provide contrasting and colorful background throughout the year.

How to Grow Imperata cylindrica

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ is propagated from divisions and is grown in well-drained soil. Like most ornamental grasses it should be pruned regularly to keep it in shape and under control. Without regular pruning and control it tends to become invasive and hard to weed out completely.

The plant requires regular watering and good exposure to bright sunlight. In colder climates, it requires protection from heavy frost.

Japanese Bloodgrass

Japanese Bloodgrass/ Image by jacki Dee

28 Jun

Pennisetum: Ornamental Grasses for Landscapes and Gardens

Pennisetum is a genus of annual and perennial ornamental grasses from tropical and temperate regions of the world. Some popular species from this genus include millet, grain and some fodder plants. These ornamental grasses are known for their foliage and flowers that really add ornamental value to gardens and landscapes.

Pennisetum are generally tough, drought-tolerant and easily grown plants. They usually grow in small clumps and produce soft, feathery inflorescence in late summer. Most species of Pennisetum are frost hardy in tropical climates; however they need protection from long winters of cold regions. These plants prefer full sun and a well-drained soil. In their native climate, these plants can withstand drought and require only moderate watering.

Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum'

Pennisetum Setaceum 'Rubrum', Image by Matt Lavin

Some of the popular species of Pennisetum include:

Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ (Fountain Grass) – Grows up to 1 meter and produces rose-colored flowers on long spikes in summer.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ (Dwarf Fountain Grass) – Relatively smaller species (50 to 75 cm) with small clumps of grassy leaves; grows in almost any soil. Prefers full sun and a little moist soil. Flowers appear in late summer.

Pennisetum orientale (Oriental Fountain Grass) – Ornamental grass with fresh green leaves that grow up to 75 cm. This species produces white, feathery flowers and prefers partial sun, moist soil and a regular soil mix with good drainage.

10 Jun

Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses

In an earlier post, I shared nine ornamental grasses that you can use for designing your garden landscape. Today, I am sharing some brilliant examples of landscapes and gardens that use ornamental grasses.

Growing ornamental grasses in containers – a brilliant idea indeed.

Grass in containers

A nice use of hardy and drought tolerant grass in a xeriscape.

Xeriscaping with hardy grass

Evergreen landscape with ornamental grasses.

Landscaping with Grass

A very handsome mix of ornamental grasses growing in a bed for a dramatic effect.

Grasses in garden

Excellent bed of evergreen ornamental grasses.

Growing grasses in a bed

Nice use of ornamental grass in a pathway.

Growing grasses in pathway

04 Mar

9 Ornamental Grasses for Your Garden Landscape Design

Ornamental grasses are my favorite landscape design elements because of the variety of color, texture and dramatic effect that grasses can add. They can be used for many purposes as well: as groundcovers, as design elements, as companion plants, as specimen plants or even as decorative hedges in gardens. The best part of growing ornamental grasses is low-maintenance as most grasses are not fussy about soil or moisture. Hence, native ornamental grasses make a good choice if you are planning a low-maintenance garden.

Since grasses do not have special requirements, you can select from a broad range of species and varieties, however, best results are achieved only if you select the right type of grass for your needs. Some grasses tend to grow taller whereas some species are really low-growing grasses. Some would form very dense clumps, and some would form large mounds. Some grasses are slow-growing and vertical growth habit, and some ornamental grasses spread horizontally as ground covers or grass-carpets.

If you are designing a rock garden, you can select from a variety of grasses that would grow in rock pocket. Similarly, if you are planning some unique style of hedge, screen or divider in your garden, you can grow taller grasses with vertical growth habit.

Besides the color, texture and size, you should also consider the spot that you selected for growing grasses. Generally a sunny spot is good for growing ornamental grasses.

Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’

 

How to Grow Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses can withstand periods of drought easily, however, young plants should be provided with sufficient water regularly until they establish themselves. Growth can be encouraged by mulching. Use general purpose fertilizer only when new growth starts. As far as propagation is concerned, most grasses can be propagated from divisions. Generally, spring is good time to divide grasses. For healthy foliage and inflorescence, make sure that your grasses receive good exposure of sunlight.

Some grasses have razor-sharp ‘leaves’; handle them with care to avoid cuts.

Popular species of ornamental grasses include:

1. Arundinaria disticha

Grows as evergreen dwarf foliage plant. Leaves are bright-green with a tinge of purple. Provide average water and bright sunlight. (Zone 6a – 9b)

2. Arundo danox (Spanish reed)

Grows as tall (up to 6 meters), leafy-clumps in tropical climates. Characterized by broad marginal leaves, this perennial grass produces feathery inflorescence in autumn. (Zone 6a – 10b)

3. Miscanthus sinensis

Tall grass (up to 3 meters), makes nice accent plant and grows easily with no special requirements. Flowers grow as white, feathery heads. It is also used in dried arrangements. (Zone 5a – 9b)

Chinese Silver Grass

Chinese Silver Grass, Image via Wikipedia

4. Bambusa glaucescens (Hedge bamboo)

Excellent choice for hedging, this evergreen plant produces large dense clumps of graceful foliage. It is fast-growing plan and can be propagated easily from division. (Zone 9a – 11)

5. Cortaderia selloana (Pampas Grass)

Large ornamental grass with feathery inflorescence, Pampas Grass is good choice for hedges. (Zone 7a – 10b)

6. Nassella tenuissima (Silky Thread Grass)

Good for both garden landscapes and containers, this beautiful plant produces erect clumps of leafy growth. (Zone 7a – 10b)

7. Helictotrichon sempervirens (Blue Oat Grass)

Producing dense clumps of blue-green leafy growth with semi-evergreen habit, this plant can be grown in direct sunlight as well as under light shade. (Zone 4a – 9 b)

Blue Oat Grass

Blue Oat Grass, Image by Josh Jackson

8. Pennisetum alopecuroides (Fountain Grass)

Mound forming grass with fresh-green foliage, this plant produces delicate and beautiful white inflorescence. (Zone 5b – 9b)

Fountain Grass

Image by Allan Hack

9. Spartina pectinata (Cord Grass)

Preferring moist soil, this beautiful plant offers decent growth along  borders and pathways. (Zone 4a – 9b)

Useful Resources:

Book: The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses: Sedges, Rushes, Restios, Cat-Tails and Selected Bamboos by Rick Darke

Seeds: 
Eragrostis elliotii (Blue Love Grass) – 1000 seeds

Pink Pampas Grass – 200 seeds

Uncinia rubra – 50 seeds

Artificial Grasses:

While ornamental grasses will look great in your garden, if you are opting for an easier to maintain solution you might also want to consider investing in a really good quality artificial lawn available from suppliers like greatgrass.co. These days, artificial grass looks just as life-like as real grass and with a minimal amount of upkeep, it can be great value for money.