Expand Your Designer Grasses Palette

Expand Your Designer Grasses Palette

High fashion isn’t just for the runway. Color sells and sizzles in these sure-to-please varieties. Emerald Coast Growers helped make ornamental grasses mainstream, and they’re loving these new varieties that are anything but. We asked Cheri Markowitz, sales manager and grass guru, for her favorite picks for this season. Kick your grass program up a notch with the latest designer grasses.

Bold Burgundies

Send spring sales soaring with one of the world’s hottest new grasses. Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ is ready for liftoff. This international award winner is striped burgundy, pink, cream, white, green and ruby red on plants up to 36 inches tall. A grand finale of rich red plumes tops off the spectacular foliage. It’s hardy to Zones 9 and 10.

Fire up success with pennisetum ‘Skyrocket.’ Pink projectile plumes sparkle above bright green and pristine white variegated foliage. This fiery, easy-growing, low-maintenance cultivar is a new sport of the highly popular ‘Fireworks.’ It is tender and grows 20 to 30 inches in full sun to shade. ‘Skyrocket’ is hardy to Zones 9 to 11.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Burgundy Bunny’ blazes with color from summer, when its petite leaves are mainly green with red accents, to fall, when the nearly all-red blades light up the landscape. Ivory cotton tail plumes top off the short stunner, which grows to only 18 inches. ‘Burgundy Bunny’ is great for containers or borders in sun to part shade, and it’s hardy to Zone 6.

Golden Greens

Gracefully arching green-striped gold leaves form a waterfall of color in Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola.’ Its slight upward cascade gives it added movement and texture for even more interest. With a beautiful clumping habit, ‘Aureola’ shines in beds and containers alike. Autumn brings beautiful pink and red tones to mix with the green and gold. Hardy to Zone 5, ‘Aureola’ grows up to 18 inches in sun to part shade.

Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ displays a mane of large, showy chartreuse seed heads, each over 2 inches long and held horizontally. Big and bold, this grama grass reaches heights of up to 36 inches and blooms from early summer through winter. Stems stand tough even through snow, giving interest and color for six to eight months. ‘Blonde Ambition’ prefers full sun and is hardy to Zone 4.

The Natural Look

Put on a real show with the massive fluffy white plumes on Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila.’ Reaching about 6 feet tall, this dwarf pampas grass makes an impact with its arching mid-green leaves and thick stems. ‘Pumila’ makes an unmistakable specimen and gives the added benefits of drought tolerance. ‘Pumila’ loves full sun and is hardy to Zone 6.

Feathertop grass, Pennisetum villosum, lives up to its name with striking feathery, ivory white plumes above bright greenish-gray foliage. The unique flower forms appear in late summer to early fall and also have an extended life, adding great texture to cut and dried arrangements. Reaching up to 30 inches tall, plants prefer full sun and are hardy to Zone 8.

Powerful Purple

Pennisetum ‘Prince’ and ‘Princess’ offer what no other can: foliage that actually deepens in the summer heat, rather than fading out. Both feature much fuller habits and more vigorous growth than others, with the look of phormium but the qualities of pennisetum. Their upright, blade-like foliage doesn’t flop. Blades on ‘Princess’ are slightly thinner and more petite than ‘Prince.’ Leaves come in green with purple margins and a purple midrib, revealing rich purple tones as they unfold. Both also provide winter interest, turning bold beige and holding their shape and habit.

The second generation of ‘Prince,’ ‘Princess Molly’ bears thin, beautiful, deep burgundy leaves but only grows 14 to 20 inches tall. It is an ideal plant for smaller landscapes where color is desired but size is not. Plants have excellent disease resistance and weather tolerance and may be grown across the country. ‘Princess Molly’ loves full sun and won’t flower except in totally frost-free areas.

‘Princess Caroline’ provides brilliant purple foliage on plants that reach a mature height of about 3 feet. It is a shorter version of ‘Princess’ but with better disease resistance, excellent weather tolerance and sturdier growth. Plants will not flower except in totally frost-free areas.

This family adds texture and interest to large mixed containers and landscape beds or planted in sweeps or masses. They love full sun and are hardy to Zone 8.

Meanwhile, the wildly popular Pennisetum xadvena ‘Rubrum’ offers the winning combination of striking burgundy red foliage and foxtail-like plumes that catch the breeze and add interest to landscapes and containers alike. It’s a sun-loving purple fountain grass that reaches up to 5 feet tall. Fast growing and prolific blooming, this tender perennial is everything an annual should be, and it’s hardy to Zones 9 and 10.

Another hot annual grass, P. xadvena ‘Eatons Canyon’ is like a slightly shorter version of ‘Rubrum,’ topping out at less than 3 feet. Vibrant red-brown flower plumes rise above stunning narrow red-bronze foliage. With its finer, greener foliage and dwarf size, ‘Eatons Canyon’ is the star of the show in mixed containers or small gardens.

Rainbow Ready

The ColorGrass series features a ready-made rainbow of colorful species picked for its perfect pot performance. Carex buchananii ‘Red Rooster’ shoots upright red-bronze foliage with curls at the tips. C. comans ‘Amazon Mist’ cascades a waterfall of silver-green leaves with white undersides. C. comans ‘Bronco’ boasts arching skinny brown foliage. C. flagellifera ‘Bronzita’ shines with wider, more upright bronzy leaves. And Corynephorus canescens ‘Spiky Blue’ kicks it up with a blue-green punk rock shock of color.

Whatever the palette, there’s a color to please. Grab your grasses and go to work!

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unrooted Cuttings Production

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were Highlights of Darwin Perennials Day 2017

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More
2018 Ball Seed Catalog

July 17, 2017

Ball Seed’s 2018 New Varieties Catalog Now Available

The expanded guide includes breakthrough breeding from Ball in annuals, perennials, vegetables, potted plants, and more.

Read More
Latest Stories
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unroo…

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were H…

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More
2018 Ball Seed Catalog

July 17, 2017

Ball Seed’s 2018 New Varieties Catalog Now Available

The expanded guide includes breakthrough breeding from Ball in annuals, perennials, vegetables, potted plants, and more.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 16, 2017

Pleasant View Gardens, D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Open H…

The event gives horticulture industry professionals the chance to check out nearly 80 new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles & Fragrants line.

Read More
All American Selections

July 12, 2017

All-America Selections Celebrates Milestone Anniversary…

Coinciding with its 85th anniversary celebration, AAS is hosting an open house at its new offices, and has also released its annual report.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Plant Patent Law: Protecting the Variety Pipeline

Breeders call for better cooperation in protecting intellectual property while considering how stricter laws and expensive patents could impact the future of innovation.

Read More
Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Holy Moly!’ (Proven Winners)

July 8, 2017

Are Utility Patents Tying Up Innovation With Litigation…

The opportunities for innovation in plant breeding could be greatly advanced by creating an industry-led patent licensing platform.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Fleuroselect and CIOPORA Offer Organizational Leadershi…

Learn why breeders feel these organizations should be emulated in an industry-led initiative to protect plant breeding efforts.

Read More
Thalictrum Nimbus White (Terra Nova Nurseries)

June 30, 2017

Kelly Norris Dishes on New Plants, Going to Seed, and B…

From woody perennials to genetically modified petunias, Kelly Norris gives his take on what turned out to be a busy spring.

Read More
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on …

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellenc…

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

June 20, 2017

Dümmen Orange Enters Calla Market With Acquisition of G…

Golden State will continue to supply the market through September 2018, at which time Dümmen Orange will assume supply and delivery of much of Golden State’s product line.

Read More
Plantpeddler Variety Day

June 14, 2017

Plantpeddler Hosting Variety Day on Aug. 4 in Cresco, I…

The free event will allow attendees to tour Plantpeddler’s trial gardens, which include more than 1,200 varieties of vegetative annuals displayed in large containers, baskets, window boxes, and beds.

Read More
Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers

June 9, 2017

New Head Grower at Emerald Coast Growers is Excited abo…

Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers’ new general manager/head grower for its Lancaster, PA, location, talks about his favorite perennials, the advantages of growing in Pennsylvania, and his future hopes for his career.

Read More
Petunia 'Amore Mio' (Danziger)

June 8, 2017

AmericanHort Update on Genetically Engineered Petunias

AmericanHort is actively assisting affected plant breeders, distributors, growers, and retailers as the genetically modified petunia regulatory response continues. Since the last update, there have been several changes to the list of petunias confirmed or suspected of being genetically engineered and therefore unauthorized to be imported or sold. Also, the list of recognized laboratories for petunia variety confirmation testing has expanded. Most importantly, petunia varieties on the USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) list require an APHIS Form 2000 for importation. APHIS also began requiring that any Petunia spp. Shipments, not including regulated GE varieties, must be accompanied by a list of variety names. This resulted in some inspection delays at the USDA-APHIS plant inspection station in Atlanta over the past two weeks. In response, AmericanHort has negotiated a more flexible approach with APHIS, and new guidance has just been posted for importing Petunia plants, cuttings, or seed. The new guidance allows […]

Read More
Bailey Expo

June 8, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Expo to Take Place in Late July in Min…

This year’s expo will focus on bridging the gap with Millennials and non-gardeners through creative marketing, engaging in-store displays, and heightened customer service.

Read More
Scaevola Mix from Suntory

June 6, 2017

How Was Your Spring? Let Us Know by Taking Greenhouse G…

Please take a few minutes to answer Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 Spring Recap Survey. The deadline for completing the survey is June 20.

Read More
Eason Horticultural Resources Hot New Perennials Booklet

June 6, 2017

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials B…

“Hot New Perennials for 2018” is a compilation of information shared with Eason from a broad range of perennial young plant producers, breeding companies, and breeder representatives.

Read More