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...

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Horticulture Priorities

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadlines Approaching

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 25, 2015

13 New Shrubs You’ll Find At The 2015 California …

Woody ornamentals serve as the foundation of many great landscapes, but beyond their traditional uses, shrubs also add color, structure, texture and interest to small gardens and even containers. Check out this slideshow to see some of the newest introductions you’ll get to see at this year’s California Spring Trials.

Read More

March 23, 2015

Update To Armitage’s Greatest Perennials & Annuals …

A new update to the Greatest Perennials & Annuals app narrows the gap between consumers and grower-retailers, while providing more of Armitage’s top picks and growing advice for success with plants.

Read More
2014 Poinsettia Season Report

March 18, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Seas…

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish. Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Survey received 143 responses from growers around the country. Here, you can download the complete results of the survey, by filling out the form.

Read More
Hydrangea 'Endless Summer BloomStruck' from Bailey Nurseries

March 17, 2015

Michael Dirr Slated To Address Attendees At Hydrangeas …

Dr. Michael Dirr to deliver the keynote address at Hydrangeas 2015 conference, hosted by the Cape Cod Hydrangea Society in partnership with Endless Summer Hydrangeas. The conference will take place at the historic Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, Mass.

Read More

March 17, 2015

16 New Blooming Potted Plants You’ll See At The 2…

Blooming potted plants are perfect gift items, and they put the finishing touch on any style of home decor. So when new varieties come on the market, growers and retailers alike take note of plants they know are going to make consumers happy. Check out the slideshow to see some of the new blooming potted plants making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Salvia 'Ember's Wish'

March 11, 2015

Annual Salvias – Not Just Red Bedding Plants Anym…

Salvias are popular — and they need not all be the same. Here are a few you know well, and perhaps a few you do not. All are easy to grow and may be found through a broker or grower.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

March 11, 2015

Memoirs Of A Plantsman: Q & A With Allan Armitage

In light of the upcoming release of Dr. Allan Armitage's memoir, "It’s Not Just About the Hat — The Unlikely Journey of a Plantsman," Greenhouse Grower caught up with him for an in-depth Q & A about his newest work and what he’s planning next.

Read More

March 10, 2015

How To Determine When To Buy Herbaceous Perennials In V…

Exposing herbaceous perennials to cold temperatures, also known as vernalization, can yield a range of effects, especially on flowering. Beth Engle of SHS Griffin covers whether vernalized liners or unvernalized plants make the best sense for your sales windows.

Read More

March 4, 2015

California Spring Trials Preview: 32 New Perennials For…

Perennials are hot and if this preview of the 2015 California Spring Trials is any indication, there are going to be some great new perennial introductions for 2016. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out the slideshow to see some of the new perennials making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Lavandula 'Meerlo' (Sunset Western Garden Collection)

March 3, 2015

Why You Will Still Grow Today’s Big Perennial 10 Years …

What will be the next big perennial? Breeders say it takes more than a splashy plant to distinguish itself in the market. Therefore, the question is not what will be the next big perennial, but rather what perennial performs well enough in the garden to have staying power in the market for years to come.

Read More
Heuch Pink Fizz_featured

March 2, 2015

Intergeneric Crosses Are A New Perennial Trend

Intergeneric crosses, oddities some botanists say are an impossibility, have made serious inroads in the perennial world.

Read More
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The G…

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More

February 18, 2015

California Spring Trials Sneak Peek: New Annuals For 20…

If you're like us and you can't wait until the 2015 California Spring Trials to see some of the new genetics that will be hitting the market in 2016, never fear. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out our slideshow to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Athena Brazil Salvia 'Brazilian Purple'

February 18, 2015

ForemostCo And Athena Brazil Unite To Supply Unrooted P…

ForemostCo, Inc. and Athena Brazil have forged a working relationship to support each other in the unrooted perennial cuttings market for North America. The partnership, geared toward accommodating increasing demand for unrooted perennial cuttings in North America, adds diversity to a recently consolidated market.

Read More

February 17, 2015

Poinsettias Had Their Best Year In Many In 2014

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Growers were encouraged by high plant quality, enthusiastic shoppers and a stronger, less saturated market for poinsettias throughout the selling season. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish.

Read More
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

February 17, 2015

Geranium Hybrid ‘Biokovo’ Dubbed 2015 Peren…

Geranium xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,' a naturally occurring hybrid of G. dalmaticum and G. macrorrhizum, is the Perennial Plant Association's top pick for 2015 Perennial of the Year. Learn why this tough, landscape geranium took home the prize.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More