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...
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selections Offers Improved Navigation

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant Breeding

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More
Latest Stories
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selectio…

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More
Sea Breeze Catharanthus combo

December 2, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
kelly-norris

December 2, 2016

Kelly Norris: How The “Me Too” Philosophy Affects Plant…

When you’re selling the exact same thing as everyone else, it’s unrealistic to expect customers to buy only from you.

Read More

November 29, 2016

How Changes In Plant Patent Law Could Affect Your Varie…

There is an ongoing discussion happening among plant genetics companies about the current laws and ethics of plant breeding, and what the future holds for the improved lawful protection of genetics.

Read More
endless-summer

November 29, 2016

Endless Summer Hydrangeas Will Soon Feature New Identit…

Bailey Nurseries, which first introduced the reblooming hydrangea a decade ago, says the new identity will feature a more contemporary look to appeal to current and future gardeners.

Read More
prince-tut-cyperus-grass-feature

November 28, 2016

Growing Tips For ‘Prince Tut’ Cyperus Grass

'Prince Tut’ from Proven Winners’ Graceful Grasses collection is versatile, working well in all container sizes with its columnar habit and dense canopy and filling out well in the landscape.

Read More
Sea breeze combo

November 26, 2016

Four Mixed Container Trends To Watch

Mixed containers are still one of the best-selling SKUs at retail. Pay attention to these four trends that are making their mark on multi-liner mixes and combination containers.

Read More
Begonia at Oklahoma State University field trials

November 26, 2016

2016 Oklahoma State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City.

Read More
Petunia 'Tidal Wave Cherry'

November 25, 2016

2016 North Dakota State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

Read More
Scaevola 'Scala Bicolor Blue'

November 24, 2016

2016 North Carolina State University Field Trials Resul…

Check out the 2016 field trial results at North Carolina State University/J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC.

Read More
2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Flower Trials

November 23, 2016

2016 Missouri Botanical Garden Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO.

Read More
Mitchell’s Nursery & Greenhouse first caught the poinsettia bug in 1996, but the operation didn’t begin trialing the plant until 2004

November 21, 2016

Poinsettia Trials Across The Eastern U.S. To Take Place…

Poinsettia growers interested in keeping up with the latest variety and production trends have the chance to attend university open houses in New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Ohio.

Read More
Coleus 'Main Street River Walk'

November 21, 2016

2016 Michigan State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.

Read More
Field trials at Lucas Greenhouses

November 20, 2016

2016 Lucas Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 Field Trials results for Lucas Greenhouses in Monroeville, NJ.

Read More
Catharanthus 'Soiree Kawaii Coral'

November 19, 2016

Kansas State University 2016 Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trial results for Kansas State University in Lawrence, KS.

Read More
2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society field trials

November 18, 2016

2016 Massachusetts Horticultural Society Field Trials R…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in Wellesley, MA.

Read More
verbena-endurascape

November 18, 2016

All-America Selections Announces Its 2017 Slate Of Vari…

Brokers, growers, mail order, and seed packet companies can purchase these varieties immediately. Retailers and consumers will find AAS Winners for sale for the 2017 gardening season as supply becomes available throughout the chain of distribution.

Read More
Vinca 'Valiant Lilac'

November 17, 2016

2016 Metrolina Greenhouses Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC.

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