Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are a large group of plants that are gaining popularity and becoming an essential element in landscape designs today.  They make very dramatic impacts on our landscapes, as well as add multi-season interest.  They have the versatility and adaptability to grow in any landscape, as well as the diversity in form and texture to be an asset in any design.

Grasses come in a variety of colours – green, blue, gold, red, bronze, orange, silver, and variegated.  There are two different groups of grasses – warm season and cool season.  Warm season grasses begin growing when temperatures warm up in the spring, they are ideal for areas with long, hot summers.   Cool season grasses begin growing in early spring, than growth slows down in the heat of the summer.  Cool season grasses are ideal for areas with low humidity and cooler summers.

Here are the different types of ornamental grass

Cool Season Grasses

Blue Wheat Grass – clump forming grass with intense blue leaves, produces blue spikes of wheat-like flowers that mature to tan.

Bulbous Oat Grass - clump forming grass with green and cream striped leaves

Quaking Grass –clump forming grass with narrow dark green leaves, produces heart-shape greenish-purple spikes in late spring

Reed Grass – tall clump forming, grasses with green, green and white, or green and gold leaves, produces tall, stiff spikes of greenish flowers that mature to tan seed heads in the late summer. 

Varieties of Reed Grasses: Karl Foerster’s Grass, Overdam, Eldorado and Avalanche

Hair Grass – low clump forming grass with dark green leaves, produces upright sprays of airy green flowers that mature to beige.

Varieties of Hair Grass:  Bronze Veil, Gold Dust and Northern Lights

Blue Fescue – low clump of fine textured grass with silver-blue to green leaves, produces tan coloured spikes of flowers.

Varieties: Elijah Blue, Skinner’s Blue, Peppindale Blue

Blue Oat Grass – clump forming grass with stiff arching intensely blue leaves, produces tall spikes of tan flowers.

Varieties: Sapphire Fountain

June Grass – dense clump forming grass with blue-grey leaves, produces fluffy panicles of silvery-purplish-green flowers that age to tan.

Ribbon Grass – spreading grass with variegated white and green leaves and a pink blush produces spikes of tan flowers.

Woodrush – clump forming grass with upright arching dark green leaves, produces cluster of white flowers that mature to beige.


Warm Season Grasses

Northern Sea Oats – clump forming grass with light green bamboo-like leaves, produces arching stems of dangling green flowers that mature to bronze.

Hakone Grass – arching mound bamboo-like foliage on wiry stems, produces small sprays of flowers.

Varieties: White-Striped (Albostriata), Golden Variegated (Aureola), Fubuki

Blood Grass – a slow spreading clump of dark blood-red leaves with green base, rarely flowers

Maiden Grass – clump forming grasses in a range of colours and heights, produces showy fan-shaped panicles of flowers late in the season.

Varieties: Flame Grass, Huron Sunrise, Silver Feather, Red-Silver

Moor Grass – forms a low clump of leaves, produces taller stems with delicate flowers

Varieties:  Skyracer (tall), Variegated, Source of Rays, Swamp Witch (dwarf)

Switch Grass – clump forming grass with narrow green leaves, produces airy clouds of flowers that mature to reddish seed heads

Varieties: Heavy Metal, Northwind, Prairie Fire, Rostrahlbusch, Shenandoah, Blood Brothers, Cheyenne Sky, Prairie Sky,

Fountain Grass – clump forming grass with arching leaves, produces fuzzy bottlebrush flower spikes

Varieties: Hameln, Moudry, Fireworks, Rubrum (Red)