Ornamental grass

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Crimson fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum)

Ornamental grasses are grasses grown as ornamental plants. They have become increasingly popular in gardens in recent years.


Along with true grasses (Poaceae), several other families of grass-like plants are typically marketed as ornamental grasses. These include the sedges (Cyperaceae), rushes (Juncaceae), restios (Restionaceae), and cat-tails (Typhaceae). All are monocotyledons, typically with narrow leaves and parallel veins. Most are herbaceous perennials, though many are evergreen and some develop woody tissues. They bring striking linear form, texture, color, motion, and sound to the garden, throughout the year.


Almost all ornamental grasses are perennials, coming up in spring, from their roots, which have stored large quantities of energy, and in fall or winter go dormant. Some, notably bamboos, are evergreen, and a few are annuals. Many are bunch grasses and tussock grasses, though others form extensive systems of many-branched rhizomes. The bunching types are often called "clump-forming" or "clumping", distinct from the rhizomatous types, called "running". Sizes vary from a few centimeters up to several meters; the larger bamboos may reach 20 m or more tall. Some ornamental grasses are species that can be grown from seed. Many others are cultivars, and must be propagated by vegetative propagation of an existing plant.

Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) is easily recognizable, with semi-dwarf to very large selections for the landscape. Deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) and canyon prince wild blue rye (Leymus condensatus) are popular in larger settings, natural landscaping, and native plant gardens. There are Miscanthus grasses whose variegations are horizontal, and appear even on a cloudy day to be stippled with sunshine. Many Miscanthus and Pennisetum species flower in mid or late summer, and the seed heads are long lasting, often remaining well into the winter. Some Stipa species flower in the spring, the inflorescence standing almost two metres above the clumps of leaves, and again the seed heads last late into the winter.

When gardening near natural wildland-urban interfaces, care to avoid invasive species, such as Cortaderia jubata, Pennisetum setaceum, and Nassella tenuissima (syn. Stipa tenuissima), is responsible horticulture.


True grasses[edit]