Ornamental Grasses: Calamagrostis and Miscanthus

Ornamental Grasses are really a popular plant choice in the landscape these days. They require little maintenance, little water and last well into the winter months. Additionally, the gentle movement of the grass swaying in the breeze adds a peaceful element.

A couple of the more popular varieties of grasses are Miscanthus and Calamagrostis. Each is widely used and each is available in numerous different cultivars.

Calamagrostis Karl Foerster might just be the most popular grass. Its golden brown seed heads rise above a thick clump of grass blades. This variety can be found in both residential landscape as well as commercial settings. The seed heads will reach as high as 4’ tall and add a strong vertical form to plants.

Calamagrostis Eldorado is similar in size and shape to Karl Foerster but its leaves are variegated meaning there are multiple shades of green and gold on each blade. This color variation makes it an interesting specimen.

Looking at Miscanthus grasses, the first observation is it is a much larger species. With some varieties reaching as high as 84” it towers over many other grasses and perennials. Miscanthus Variegatus is one of these taller varieties. Its thick dense, variegated blades make it could for massing many plants together.

Red Silver Miscanthus is sorter than Variegatus but no less impressive. In late summer and fall it sports seed plumes with a silvery-red color and a cotton texture. These also are a very dense clump similar to Variegatus.

The grasses discussed here are just scratching the surface of what is available. Because of the ease of maintaining and the desire for low maintenance landscape ornamental grasses will continue to gain popularity in the landscape

6 comments (Add your own)

1. JOANNE KUHN wrote:
THERE IS NO INFORMATION ON CARING FOR ORNAMENTAL GRASSES. MY QUESTION IS DUE
YOU NEED TO CUT THEM DOWN IN THE WINTER, OR DO YOU JUST LEAVE THEM AS THEY ARE? WE HAVE PURCHASED A NEW HOME AND THEY HAVE USED MANY ORNAMENTAL GRASSES FOR LANDSCAPING. WE LOVE THEM BUT DON'T KNOW HOW TO CARE FOR THEM.

Thu, November 17, 2011 @ 11:25 AM

2. chris bethune wrote:
THERE IS NO INFORMATION ON CARING FOR ORNAMENTAL GRASSES. MY QUESTION IS DUE
YOU NEED TO CUT THEM DOWN IN THE WINTER, OR DO YOU JUST LEAVE THEM AS THEY ARE? WE HAVE PURCHASED A NEW HOME AND THEY HAVE USED MANY ORNAMENTAL GRASSES FOR LANDSCAPING. WE LOVE THEM BUT DON'T KNOW HOW TO CARE FOR THEM.
what is the answer to this question

Sat, April 14, 2012 @ 9:09 AM

3. wrote:

Tue, April 9, 2013 @ 2:38 PM

4. wrote:
Yes you cut them down at some point to help new growth emerge and to look it's best. If you're like me & enjoy the winter interest of the wheat-colored blades & fluffy plumes, then wait until spring to cut them back. Some varieties hold up better than others through winter's ice & snow. Also of course it depends on the severity of winter in your area. As a rule, If they look ragged & messy & are falling over, I cut them back, but not too close to the ground,.Leave some foliage (10"-12" or so) there to protect the crown from the cold.

Thu, May 5, 2016 @ 7:35 PM

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Thu, October 27, 2016 @ 9:04 AM

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