A New Niche: Grasses

A New Niche: Grasses

As businesses and consumers go green, North American native grasses have leapt into the spotlight. Prized for their natural beauty and versatility, they offer the added environmental bonus of attracting birds, butterflies and other beneficial wildlife. To meet this growing demand for environmentally friendly choices that still make an impact, one supplier has answered the call with easy-growing options every grower will love.

Known for its broad range of perennial starters and specialty plants, Emerald Coast Growers has made a name for itself in grasses, holding the distinction as one of North America’s largest ornamental grass liner suppliers. Now, Emerald Coast has developed Native Wonders, a full range of North American natives that takes full advantage of the grasses’ striking habits yet also provides the versatility to perform for many different uses.

“This trend toward preserving nature and the environment is something we’ve been following closely,” says Cheri Markowitz, sales manager for Emerald Coast. “We chose our North American native grasses with that in mind, selecting easy-to-grow plants with vibrant fall color and interesting habits in a variety of sizes.”

These native grasses’ greater environmental purpose has people across the country clamoring for them as they restore ground to its natural state. It’s something Dan Evins, CEO of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, knows about firsthand. He’s reclaimed hundreds of acres of his own farmland using native grasses.

“By carefully choosing varieties according to the preferred habitats of the many wildlife species on his land, Dan Evins has created a refuge for butterflies and other beneficial insects,” Markowitz says. “He and other homeowners have found grasses are great for inviting creatures like birds and butterflies to nest and feed.”

In fact, many landscape architects and consumers are using native grasses on a much smaller scale to create habitats within designs or to complement new or exotic plantings.

“Growers, landscapers and consumers like native grasses for their ability to adapt to settings from containers to border plantings to mini meadows,” Markowitz says. “Their unique habits even make them excellent as specimen or accent plants.”

Understanding this need for versatility, Emerald Coast has hand selected a broad range of North American native grasses to help growers maximize their grass programs’ impact. Their offering includes a range of sizes, colors, shapes and textures to suit any market.

Here are a few of Emerald Coast’s Native Wonders grasses to consider:

Andropogon virginicus (Broomsedge)

Silvery-white hairs surround flowers tucked inside leaves. Broomsedge’s leaf blades are green until late summer, when this very coarse plant turns to red, purple and finally a striking bronze-orange throughout winter. It grows up to 4 feet tall in large clumps with a very upright habit and is excellent for natural areas and meadow gardens. While leafier than other grasses, it is not a good livestock forage grass. Broomsedge prefers full sun and is hardy to Zones 3 to 9.

Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem)

Big Bluestem’s fuzzy flowers radiate from the tops of 8-foot tall stems accented with leaves up to 20 inches long. It displays an incredible color range, from steel gray blue during summer to brown, red and purple for fall. Dominant on the tallgrass prairie, it is especially useful for forage. Big Bluestem prefers full sun and is hardy to Zones 3 to 9.

Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama Grass)

A small common, native variety, Blue Grama Grass grows only 15 to 18 inches tall. Found in many arid or grassy areas of the United States, it displays striking burgundy-red inflorescences uniquely, held horizontally from the stems. This perennial, warm season bunchgrass blooms in the summer and is dormant in the winter. It is especially suited for mass plantings, rock gardens or in the front of borders or containers to showcase its distinct habit. Blue Grama Grass is hardy to Zones 3 to 10.

Deschampsia cespitosa (Hair Grass)

Hair Grass’ dark green foliage has an interesting, very fine, hair-like texture. Delicate flower panicles rise several feet above the foliage. Growing up to 4 feet tall, it forms a neat, tufted clump. Hair Grass prefers full sun to shade and is hardy to Zones 4 to 9.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Wild Oats)

Delicate pink, oat-like spikelet flowers dangle from long stalks above rich, bamboo-like foliage. Similar in appearance to Sea Oats (a close relative), Wild Oats is well suited as a container plant, planted in masses or even as a formal accent. This species self-sows in planted areas. Wild Oats prefers full sun to shade and is hardy to Zones 5 to 9.

Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass)

A dominant warm-season prairie grass, Switch Grass grows up to 7 feet tall in huge, leafy clumps. Single pyramid-shaped flowers in a soft neutral color extend from the end of each branch. For fall, flowers turn yellow, lasting through winter and sheltering animals from snow. An added benefit: Switch Grass is virtually maintenance free and tolerates many soil types. It prefers full sun and is hardy to Zones 4 to 10.

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)

Found in 90 percent of the United States, Little Bluestem is likely the most common native grass. Smaller than Big Bluestem, it displays flowers all along its branches, which range in color from tan to brown to wine-red. Its delicate, fine-textured stalks form large clumps. With its wide tolerance of soil conditions, Little Bluestem is ideal for managed meadows. It prefers full sun and is hardy to Zones 3b to 10.

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass)

Native to the Eastern United States and Mexico, Pink Muhly Grass’ delicate texture gives it the versatility to impact virtually any location. Showy medium pink seed panicles float above fine, glossy dark green foliage like soft clouds. This clump forming native grass grows up to 3 feet tall. Pink Muhly Grass prefers sun to partial sun and is hardy to Zones 6 to 10.

For containers or mini meadows, as part of landscape or as specimen plants, North American native grasses like Native Wonders offer the consumer-appealing combination of environmental friendliness and natural beauty, the perfect addition to any grass program.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Pleasant View Gardens Savor Edibles

July 22, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens Targets Millennials With Savor Edibles

Taking something as ubiquitous as vegetables and herbs and giving it a fresh new look is no easy task, but Pleasant View Gardens took on the challenge with extensive research and creative marketing.

Read More
Dummen New Columbus Office

July 21, 2016

Dümmen Orange Opens New North American Headquarters In Columbus, OH

The new office, which officially opened during Cultivate’16, supports the company’s vision to be integrated into a vibrant and inspiring community, and provides a bright, modern workspace for its approximately 30 local employees.

Read More
Pollen Free Lisianthus

July 20, 2016

Sakata Seed Develops World’s First Pollen-Free Lisianthus

With no stamen to produce pollen, the new Lisianthus varieties have improved flower durability and the benefit of no scattered pollen that can cause staining of flowers and machines.

Read More
Latest Stories
Pleasant View Gardens Savor Edibles

July 22, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens Targets Millennials With Savor Ed…

Taking something as ubiquitous as vegetables and herbs and giving it a fresh new look is no easy task, but Pleasant View Gardens took on the challenge with extensive research and creative marketing.

Read More
Dummen New Columbus Office

July 21, 2016

Dümmen Orange Opens New North American Headquarters In …

The new office, which officially opened during Cultivate’16, supports the company’s vision to be integrated into a vibrant and inspiring community, and provides a bright, modern workspace for its approximately 30 local employees.

Read More
Pollen Free Lisianthus

July 20, 2016

Sakata Seed Develops World’s First Pollen-Free Lisianth…

With no stamen to produce pollen, the new Lisianthus varieties have improved flower durability and the benefit of no scattered pollen that can cause staining of flowers and machines.

Read More

July 19, 2016

17 New Vegetable Intros For Greenhouse Production

New varieties of edibles introduced at 2016 California Spring Trials offer something for every type of gardener, from the beginning do-it-yourselfer to the hardcore, heirloom-only type. Check out some of the new varieties we saw at Spring Trials this year that will be available for retail in 2017.

Read More
One Earth Edibles From Peace Tree Farm

July 16, 2016

How To Capture Your Share Of The Edibles Market

At Peace Tree Farm, One Earth Edibles represent healthy living on a healthy planet.

Read More
Terra Nova Nurseries Catalog

July 15, 2016

New Product Catalog From Terra Nova Nurseries Designed …

The new catalog, which made its debut at Cultivate’16, offers easy access to organized genera grouped alphabetically, and also by size, color, habit, top sellers, photography, newest varieties, and USDA horticultural zones.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 8, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens And D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Ope…

The 20th annual event will feature new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as annuals, combos, and Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles and Fragrants line.

Read More
NatureSweet

July 5, 2016

NatureSweet And Ganfer Partner On Tomato Production

The partnership will add more than 250 acres of NatureSweet greenhouse tomato production over the next three years.

Read More
SunPatiens Sakata Medal of Excellence Feature

June 29, 2016

SunPatiens Earns The 2016 Medal Of Excellence In Market…

With its reputation for excellent garden performance from spring to frost, and as a problem-solver for Impatiens Downy Mildew, SunPatiens has become a “hero plant” that helps gardeners succeed.

Read More
Kelly Norris - feature

June 28, 2016

Kelly Norris: Three Variety Trends That Caught My Eye T…

My reflections on promising new plants, the realities of market penetration, and adding value along the supply chain.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Awar…

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties Fo…

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 18, 2016

Mark Your Calendar For Sakata Seed Trials In August

Sakata has set two dates for its California-based trials: Aug. 15-17 in Salinas, and Aug. 17-19 in Woodland.

Read More
Tomato Congress Logo

June 15, 2016

International Tomato Congress In Mexico Will Focus On G…

The event, which takes place in San Luis Potosi from July 20-22, will feature discussions on production strategies, cost management in protected structures, and optimizing your greenhouse environment.

Read More
Nir Nursery Wax Flower Pot Plant

June 14, 2016

Danziger Reaches Deal To Distribute Nir Nursery Varieti…

With the agreement, Danziger becomes the exclusive distributor of Nir’s product line, which includes cut flowers, foliage, pot, and garden plants.

Read More

June 14, 2016

Dümmen Orange Expands Its Succulent Offerings Through N…

According to Dümmen Operations Director Kate Santos, succulents are an attractive growth category because of their ease of use, shelf life in stores, drought tolerance, and versatility in application.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 14, 2016

New Cool Season, Vegetable, And Foliage Crops For Fall …

Whether you’re providing pansies and violas to the garden center for fall color or decorative edibles to grace patio containers, consider these 16 varieties for fall crop sales, newly introduced for 2016 and hitting retail in 2017.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]