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...
Dipladenia Sundenia

January 11, 2017

New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benefits

Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.

Read More
craspedia-golf-beauty-danziger-feature

January 9, 2017

Growing Tips for Craspedia ‘Golf Beauty’

Laura Robles of Mast Young Plants offers advice on ‘Golf Beauty,’ a novelty plant with can’t-miss yellow flower heads and silver foliage that blooms throughout the summer.

Read More
Bride with wedding orchids.

January 7, 2017

How to Stand Out in the Orchid Market

With the popularity of the Phalaenopsis orchid growing and its saturation in the market, orchid growers are hunting for new ways to stand out from their competitors.

Read More
Latest Stories
Dipladenia Sundenia

January 11, 2017

New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benef…

Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.

Read More
craspedia-golf-beauty-danziger-feature

January 9, 2017

Growing Tips for Craspedia ‘Golf Beauty’

Laura Robles of Mast Young Plants offers advice on ‘Golf Beauty,’ a novelty plant with can’t-miss yellow flower heads and silver foliage that blooms throughout the summer.

Read More
Bride with wedding orchids.

January 7, 2017

How to Stand Out in the Orchid Market

With the popularity of the Phalaenopsis orchid growing and its saturation in the market, orchid growers are hunting for new ways to stand out from their competitors.

Read More
California Coast

January 3, 2017

Expect Big Changes for California Spring Trials 2017

California Spring Trials 2017 will be here before you know it. Find out what you can look forward to and get a head start on planning and registering for your trip.

Read More
westerlay-orchids-feature

January 1, 2017

How Westerlay Orchids Solved Its Bacteria Problem

Water-borne bacteria was causing havoc with Westerlay Orchids’ production, so the company took preventative action to ensure the health of its plants.

Read More
nepeta-purple-wave-with-roses

December 30, 2016

Allan Armitage: Plants That Can Bring Success in the Ne…

Are you wondering which plants to grow? Here are some perennials, annuals, and herbs that are gaining popularity.

Read More
Honeybelle combo

December 27, 2016

19 New Combos for Containers Big and Small

Check out 19 combos and mixes new for the retail marketplace in 2017 that offer something for every container type.

Read More
sun-parasol-original-crimson-web

December 20, 2016

Suntory Launches Unrooted Cuttings Program for Sun Para…

While the domestically produced rooting program for the Sun Parasol will continue, growers who would like to purchase unrooted cuttings will have the opportunity for the Sun Parasol Original varieties and Garden Crimson.

Read More
santos flare

December 20, 2016

Ball Horticultural Expands Potted Plant Offerings With …

Ex-Plant, which specializes in potted plants, will become a part of Ball’s PanAmerican Seed division.

Read More

December 16, 2016

Please Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia S…

Are plant sales up or down compared to last year? How did Black Friday set the tone for this season? What varieties and sizes were your best sellers? Did you try anything new this year to appeal to younger consumer demographics? We tackle all of these questions and more to help you understand the trends in Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Poinsettia Survey.

Read More

December 13, 2016

Dümmen Orange Shares Trends And Season-Extending Tips A…

As a purveyor of a wide collection of poinsettia and potted plant genetics, Dümmen Orange offered attendees a look at current trends – and a glimpse into the future – at its annual event in Columbus, OH.

Read More
Lollipop Flaming Hot Melon combo

December 13, 2016

21 New Combos For Spring To Fall Color In 2017

With the flood of new varieties and flower colors coming on the market, there is no end to the combinations and mixes available for hanging baskets and containers.

Read More
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