Introducing texture, movement and sound, grasses on their own are a gorgeous addition to our gardens – but you can make them spectacular by simple yet highly effective companion planting.
Plus companion plants are usually good for wildlife and pollinators too – so everyone benefits!
There are lots of companion plants to choose from, but here we’ve selected our favourites to extend the season of interest and set your grasses off to best effect…
Large, rich, daisy-like flowers in a range of colours with prominent orange-brown centres on stiff stems which appear from June to September. They are tough, don’t need staking and cope well with adverse weather conditions, except drought. They are long-flowering too and highly attractive to bees and butterflies. Plant in bold drifts among grasses.
With aromatic leaves and upright spikes of violet-blue flowers, Russian sage is a wonderful companion to all kinds of late-Summer ornamental grasses. The tiny flowers appear on tall silvery spikes above the main body of the plant’s deeply-cut, lobed leaves in August and September. It copes well with most soil conditions and prefers full sun.
Flat, plate-like flower heads are held on high stems above rich, green, fern-like foliage. Available in a range of colours from yellow, red and orange through to pink, red and white, the gorgeous flower heads seem to ‘dance’ through the grass from June to September. They like a sunny spot, and in return are long-flowering and drought-tolerant.
If you’re looking for another smaller grass companion then you won’t go far wrong with the spires of dark red blooms of sanguisorba ‘tanna’. Flowering from June to September above blue-grey foliage, they’ll spread slowly to form a plant around 40cm wide – plus you can use the cucumber-flavoured foliage in your salad bowl!
Perennial cornflowers make an excellent addition to wildflower meadows and prairie style planting schemes. They are tolerant of most soil conditions but prefer full sun and if you choose your varieties carefully, they can be in flower from May to September. They also self-seed freely, so it’s easy to increase plant stocks!
With its succulent, blue-green foliage, sedum provides a completely different contrast for grasses. Available in a range of differently sized varieties it’s easy to find a place for them, and if you select your varieties carefully, they can be in bloom from July to November.
These resilient perennials come in an array of hot colours and, if deadheaded regularly, will provide vibrant daisy-like flowers from June to August. They like full sun and prefer rich, moist soils where they’ll happily form upright clumps, although the taller cultivars may need some support.
These large golden yellow daisy-like flowers appear from August to October. They are free-flowering and best planted in bold drifts in sunny or partially shaded areas which don’t dry out over the Summer.
The grass-like foliage of this evergreen perennial mixes well with most ornamental grasses. Also available in different-sized varieties which flower from July to October, they are able to add imposing, bright drama in shades of orange and yellow, or a mix of both. Easy and undemanding, they like a sunny spot with fertile moist soil.
So now you should have a few ideas but, as there are so many good companion plants to choose from, come and have a browse – and make your gorgeous grasses into glorious grasses!