With fabulous foliage, spectacular seed heads and the ability to look wonderful in Winter too, evergreen and deciduous grasses are a fantastic addition to the garden. Offering movement, texture, character, colour and even sound – and requiring minimal maintenance – these plants will really earn their place in your garden.
Take a look at our guide into ornamental grasses, including information on how to plant and care for them – and whichever you choose for your garden will be a great success!
What varieties are available?
Both evergreen and deciduous varieties are available, with evergreens providing coloured foliage all year and deciduous varieties whose growth dies to brown but remains to provide interest over the winter – there’s also something for every situation which makes them extremely versatile. As well as being great structural plants, they also make excellent partners for perennials, contrasting well with all sorts of leaves and flowers.
For foliage – some of the most eye-catching varieties have brightly coloured leaves or bold variegation and work well in containers, or as feature plants in a border.
Evergreen – available in wonderful colours, these are excellent for year-round structure.
For seed heads – light and feathery, or big and fluffy, seed heads extend the season and look beautiful covered in dew or frost, providing fantastic Winter interest.
In fact all grasses look beautiful backlit by the sun and covered in dew and frost, so don’t be in a hurry to tidy them away in Autumn!
Planning and Planting Tips
- Be generous when planning and planting, as grasses create much more drama when planted in drifts or bold groups.
- There are grasses for damp or dry soil, shady and sunny situations – so you should always be able to find something that will work for you.
- Some larger grasses can be divided into two or three pieces at planting time – which means that you get more for your money! Just make sure that each piece has roots and shoots attached.
- Grasses can also look great in patio pots, but if you’re planting taller varieties, be sure to use large, heavy pots to stop them blowing over in strong winds.
- Line terracotta pots with plastic (old compost bags will work fine) to help conserve moisture.
- Many grasses can be successfully grown from seed, so a little patience could yield a lot more grass for your investment!
Our favourites include…
Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ – compact and rounded in shape, with needle-like, silvery blue-green leaves, this evergreen grass produces short spikes of blue-green flowers from June to July which gradually fade to buff as the seasons progress. Site it in full sun to achieve the best foliage colour.
Pennisetum – also known as fountain grass, offers a wonderful range of varieties, all with narrow, upright leaves and feathery, architectural, tufted flower spikes. Firstly here are our favourite tender varieties…
- Fireworks – creates a fabulous mound of arching, bold variegated pink, cream and mid-green leaves with an abundance of elongated, pink-tinged, creamy flower heads during Summer.
- Summer Samba – has sensational dark maroon to bronze-green leaves which are darker at the tips, with showy silver-pink flower spikes from mid-Summer.
- Fairy Tails – has a strongly upright habit and masses of delightful link pink-white flowers from mid-Summer which fade to tan and beige.
- Sky Rocket – offers bright green foliage with white margins and small, bristly cream-red flower spikes in Summer.
And our favourite deciduous variety…
- Hameln – forms a compound, low mound of bright green leaves and then produces long-lasting soft, pinkish flower spikes from late Summer.
Miscanthus sinensis – also known as Japanese silver grass, offers spectacular feathery plumes which tower above the graceful, arching foliage – they’re simply fabulous for adding drama and elegant structure which continues over Winter.
- Zebrinus – named from the cream bands on the leaves and, this variety has striking, silky flowers bloom in late Summer which last for months.
- Flamingo – a real favourite and one of the very best with elegant, slightly pendant, dark pink flower plumes which appear in late Summer, it’s also great for Autumn colour.
Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ – forms clumps of very erect grey-green foliage topped with massed panicles of tiny purplish spikelets in Summer which create a cloud-like effect.
Stipa gigantea – a stunning evergreen grass which produces tall, arching stems of golden, oat-like flower heads in June and July above slender green leaves. It is a truly majestic plant which creates great movement and looks truly stunning under-planted with companion perennials.
Pruning & Care
With regard to care and pruning, this is split between the two types:
For the first few seasons, evergreens require little more than a rake through in spring to remove old leaves and flowers to keep them looking tidy. If plants start to look too scruffy, then cut back all of the old growth in spring – the fresh growth will soon have them looking as good as new.
These are best cut back in spring to get rid of the dead stems which have provided interest over winter and make way for the new growth. Be sure to cut as close to ground level as possible so that the new shoots can grow through quickly.
Grass clumps will increase in diameter over time – if they outgrow their space they can be dug up and divided in Spring.
Gorgeous grasses can become truly spectacular with the addition of companion plants –check out our guide for some ideas!
We stock an excellent range of grasses – and great companions for them – so visit us NOW and choose some glorious grasses in your garden!