Now is the perfect time to consider planting some ornamental grasses in the garden. This time of year the plants are showing full “flower” (seed heads) and many now have some purple, pink, or red to the stems due to cooler weather of fall, and right now it is easy to see these attributes in our garden center. They add greatly to the landscape the entire fall and continue providing lots of interest throughout the winter; as the foliage starts to die and turn yellow-brown, it stays looking good and maintaining its form while the drying seed heads remain attractive. This is very valuable as most of the plants we use here in central Ohio either lose their foliage or entirely die back to the ground, creating an empty, barren look to the yard throughout those long winter months! As a result they can be very useful in the landscape, not only for aesthetics but also to provide hedges, screens, and borders, as well as hiding utility units and meters. They provide an excellent alternative to evergreen shrubs for the winter effect.
Most grasses do need full sun, or as much sun as possible. Prepare the soil by adding to the planting area organic matter such as peat moss or compost at a 1:1 mix with the existing soil. Water frequently until established. Grass plants would benefit greatly from an application of either a root stimulating fertilizer or bone meal when planting followed by a perennial fertilizer in early spring. Early spring is also a great time to cut them back to an inch or so above the ground before new growth appears.
We have a huge assortment of ornamental grasses, each having different characteristics and taking on a different appearance in the landscape. They also vary in size with some growing over 10 feet tall while others are under a foot in height, but most are within the 4-6 foot range. Some of the more commonly used varieties include Maiden Grasses, the most popular being Miscanthus sinensis ‘gracilimus’, growing to 5-6 feet and having striking silvery gray foliage and flower spikes. The ‘purpurascens’ variety is similar but the foliage takes on an attractive purple hue in the cool autumn weather. Other popular Maiden grasses are ‘Morning Light’ and ‘Zebrinus’ each having unique variegation to the foliage. Erianthus ravannae, Hardy Plume grass, is an extremely tall grass, growing to 12’ tall with huge plume-like flower spikes in the fall. Another popular variety is Karl Forester Feather Reed Grass maintaining a size of only 3 feet and flowering early in the summer. Dwarf fountain grass is similar with a more compact habit and used frequently in smaller areas in the landscape. Others, such as Dwarf Ribbon Grass and Japanese Blood grass, stay under a foot tall but have more of a spreading habit that will fill in and cover an area. Find out more about these and many other grasses in our garden centers today!
-Provided by Oakland New Albany