Foliage color andtexture has become of greater importance in the landscape, container gardens, or in planters.We find ourselves ending up with the same handful of annuals, deciduous shrubs, evergreens, and perennials.We often over look a plant family which can give us both color and texture, this plant family would be Ornamental Grasses.
Valued for their foliage appearance; flower shoots (Plume), texture,
and winter interest.Foliage color among grasses can vary immensely, ranging from leaf colors of green,
green with purple, yellow with green, white with green, and in numerous mature heights ranging from 6 inches to 12 feet.
Common uses in the landscape are changes
in texture and height, softening up vertical edges, and camouflage for your utility boxes and water meters.The
texture of the grasses is typically used to contrast broadleaf plants and to soften up the landscape.Grasses
are free flowing and help us break the monetary of highly manicured landscaping, providing a more natural appeal. Grasses
can be both eye catching as well as pleasing to the eye.An example would be, having red barberry lined
in front of the house and then placing a white and green leaved ornamental grass as a corner planting.The
color of the barberry would help make the grass stand out, and the grass would help make the barberry stand out therefore,
creating an eye catching landscape.
Plumes come up on stalks during the late
part of summer to the first part of fall.The plumes are feather like in appearance and colors are typically
khaki, white, and some even have a purplish tinge to them.Plumes vary a little bit in size and shape.The plumes add even more to a plant that already looks good and brings the total package to any landscape.
Hardy in most conditions, ornamental grasses do well in sun, part
sun, some varieties in shade.They also do well in moist and even wet conditions.
Winter interest or indoor décor.When the grasses go
dormant in the fall, if you leave them uncut they leave us with a khaki colored arrangement to enjoy the look during the late
fall/winter.It really looks neat when there is snow on the ground.For inside décor,
you can bundle the grass up, cut if off at the ground, and place it in a nice decorative pot inside your house for a nice
Rejuvenate your landscape
by adding ornamental grasses that will reward you with color, texture, and benefit of year long interest
Uncle's Top Ten Ornamental Grasses
Dwarf Hameln Grass
Slender green leaves and tan, wooly,
caterpillar-like blooms from mid-summer through autumn. Drought tolerant. Foliage height is 2' with blooms 3'.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'
A tall, graceful, and clumping ornament
grass with slender, weeping, and silvery green leaves that turn golden bronze in fall. White, fan-shaped plumes in fall extend
above the foliage. Foliage height is 5' with blooms 7'.
Morning Light Maiden Grass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'
Very graceful, upright, and arching.
The foliage has a narrow white band that runs the full length of each leaf giving it a light and silvery effect. Foliage height
is 4' with blooms 5' - 6'.
Yaku Jima Dwarf Maiden
Miscanthus sinensis 'Yaku Jima'
Compact selection with fine textured
foliage that turns reddish brown in the fall and remains attractive well into winter. Silvery beige plumes provide additional
accent in the fall. Foliage height is 3' - 4' with blooms to 4' - 5'.
Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus'
Green leaves with yellow-colored horizontal
bands make this ornament grass stand out. Fast-growing 6' - 7' tall. Silvery white plumes rise 2' above the foliage in fall.
Shenandoah Switch Grass
Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'
Bright red foliage deepens to burgundy
by fall. Blooms begin in color up by early June. A good substitute for Japanese Blood grass. Foliage height is 2' - 3' with
Dallas Blues Switch Grass
Panicum virgatum 'Dallas Blues'
The gray-blue foliage is wider than
most switch grass and turns attractive shades of rust-brown to warm tan in winter. Large, finely textured, mauve flower panicles.
A dense upright, vase-shaped clump to 5'.
Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
Beautiful cool season grass with an
upright growth habit. Flowers in late spring starting as bright pink to red and fading to buff. Thrives in poor soils. Foliage
height 2.5' - 3.5' with blooms to 6'.
Overdam Variegated Feather Reed Grass
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdam'
Nicely variegated foliage with vertical
white stripes. Grows in compact clumps 2' - 3' high with blooms to 6' high.
Hardy Pampas Grass
A large, clumping ornamental grass
with very showy, silvery-white plumes borne atop sturdy, erect, reddish stems. Flowers tower above gray-green, mounding, basal
foliage in late summer. Cold hardy, drought tolerant. Foliage heigh is 4' - 5' with blooms 12' - 14'
Uncle's Honorable Mention
Annual Purple Fountain Grass
Not winter hardy in Kansas City but
this one deserves an honorable mention. Working in landscapes as an annual or in containers this is a great plant. Narrow,
gracefully arching, burgundy-purple leaves. Bristly, burgundy-cream, foxtail-like seed heads extend slightly above the foliage
throughout summer. Foliage height is 3' with blooms to 4'.