Search This Blog

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Experimenting with Grasses

I've tried a number of grasses in the past, some did not last.   The one that has been my biggest success is Miscanthus sinensis zebrinus.  I have 5 clumps of it that have been around for 12 years.  The only maintenance is to cut it down to 3-5" each February.  I have been using a saw to make it easier.

So I decided to give some more grasses a chance this fall.   I'm hoping they will be good fillers between other perennials.  One I felt would work was Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light', which has a white stripe running lengthwise on the blades so that the effect is a silvery look.   Success with Zebra grass makes me think it will be a tough plant too.

I'm trying 2 Panicum virgatums, 'Ruby Ribbons'

and Rubrum, they both have burgundy leaves at least by fall, and delicate seed heads in a fine spray.

A grass I've tried before that didn't last, but which I keep seeing in other blogs looking wonderful, so I'm trying it again, is Imperata cylindra, Japanese Blood grass.  It seems to stay low and upright.

Another grass that is short but cascades into a fine ball looking like a long-haired Guinea pig, is Mexican Feather Grass, Stipa tenuissima.

I've been admiring these grasses on other people's blogs, several are shown in this post of Nancy J. Ondra's Hayefield, Japanese blood grass, some Panicum virgatums, Mexican feather grass, and many more.   Scott Weber also uses many grasses to good effect in his Rhone Street Gardens blog, this post on grasses.

They have inspired me to try some grasses from seed as well, Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima), and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) are planned for next year, so far.  I will try direct-sowing some seed this fall and also growing some in pots under lights, they will need to be chilled in the refrigerator for a couple of months.

Bamboos are also in the grass family, and I have a number of them but covered them in another post earlier.



  1. All very lovely grasses!
    I've thought about getting grasses, too, but have not yet.
    Have a beautiful day!
    Lea's Menagerie

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. It's hard for me to get into grasses because over the years weed grasses have appeared that have become my biggest weed challenge, plus fighting the stoloniferous lawn grass that tries to creep back into all my beds. I am going to see if I can fight fire with fire.;-)

  3. Those are all good choices, I am a huge fan of ornamental grasses and Zebra grass is a favorite. They add so much to the fall garden, especially in places where we don't have much fall color. I haven't tried some of those because we may too hot and dry.

  4. My problem is that I have tried Japanese blood grass once and Chasmanthium latifolium twice, I saw one at the nursery that was even variegated, so very tempting, and I love those seed heads. I'm at least trying the blood grass, but I may not succeed, perhaps they just don't like it here. But at least Zebra grass does well for me, so I am expecting good things from Morning Light.

  5. Careful, I hear that experimenting with grass can lead to other things. (Fooling around with agaves, having a go with agastaches...)

    Your grasses are looking lovely. I have an electric hedge trimmer that makes short work of the February huge grass cut back. You can start at the top and cut a couple of inches at a time and it yields mulch that you can leave in place if you're as lazy as I am.

    1. I have to admit to having a go with agastaches! You crack me up. The electric hedge trimmer sounds like a great solution to the grass trimming chores. I like efficiency, it frees you up to do other things.

  6. I love grasses and have some luck but I need to be better at siting them