Ornamental Grasses Are Gaining Steam

Ornamental Grasses Are Gaining Steam

Emerald Coast Growers marketing manager John Friel says ornamental grasses are no longer a niche crop but an accepted presence, part of the perennial mainstream. Whether they serve as a stand-alone specimen or in mixed containers, grasses are getting lots of new play.

Friel also believes that while durable, native varieties are in vogue, tender varieties are also serving a purpose. “One of the most popular grasses out there is P. xadvena ‘Rubrum,'” he says. “It’s not hardy, but it’s so pretty, which makes up for it. Its more recent offspring, ‘Fireworks,’ is a show-stopper.”

‘Fireworks’ is the first variegated purple fountain grass with mid-veins of burgundy with hot pink margins. In addition to ‘Fireworks,’ panicum ‘Ruby Ribbons’ is another variety Friel and Emerald Coast Growers are excited about. ‘Ruby Ribbons’ has soft blue-green foliage in the spring that takes on a wine-red color in early summer, which intensifies as the season progresses.

Battle-Tested Survivors

Consumers want garden reliability, says Jelitto’s Allen Bush. And a perennial or ornamental grass becomes truly noteworthy only after it survives a few seasons. “Time is precious and there are increasing competing demands for leisure dollars,” he says. “We are focusing more on perennial and ornamental grass introductions that look good on the bench and in the garden over time.”

For 2010, Jelitto’s newest ornamental grass introduction is Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Pixie Fountain.’ This species grows in humus-rich, moist soils and even in bogs, over much of the cooler regions of north temperate portions of Europe, Asia and North America.

‘Pixie Fountain’ is lower-growing with darker semi-evergreen green foliage and slightly wider upright leaves. The lovely cloud-like airy blooms appear in June on sturdy stems, opening a bright light green and maturing to golden tan by fall. Bush says deschampsia ‘Pixie Fountain’ is one of the easiest of all grasses to maintain and needs only a single annual cutting-back late each winter.

Increasing Awareness

John Hoffman, founder and owner of Hoffman Nursery, is starting to see the use of native and ornamental grasses as a lawn alternative. “This country has grown up on green lawns. Americans love green lawns, but people are looking at functionality these days,” Hoffman says. “People don’t want to use as much water. They don’t want to maintain as much as they used to.

There’s plant material out there that can lessen all of that, he says–like Carex pensylvanica or Mosquito grass. “The kids aren’t going to play football and soccer on it, but then again this is something that doesn’t have to be mowed except once a year and it looks very nice and lush and green.”

Hoffman says the growing awareness of ornamental grasses can be attributed to commercial applications, institutions and public gardens.

Along with Carex morrowii ‘Ice Ballet’ and Carex appalachica, Panicum virgatum ‘Cheyenne Sky’ is stirring up quite a buzz at Hoffman Nursery. ‘Cheyenne Sky’ has blue-green spring foliage that turns wine-red in early to mid-summer and deepens to burgundy tones in late summer and fall. Hoffman Nursery is one of only two current propagators of ‘Cheyenne Sky’ in the country,

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Youngs Plant Farm Trial Garden feature

January 21, 2017

Don’t Miss the Southern Garden Tour This June

Growers, retailers, and all industry professionals are invited to the 2017 Southern Garden Tour, which is hosted by Young’s Plant Farms, Sakata, and Metrolina Greenhouses, and will be held June 6-8.

Read More
Gaillardia 'Mesa Red'

January 21, 2017

2016 Pike Creek Horticulture Center Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for The Pike Creek Horticulture Center in Kenosha, WI.

Read More
Anna Chernyavsky

January 20, 2017

New Director of Sales for Bedding Plants and Perennials at Danziger

Anna Chernyavsky, who joined Danziger in August 2016, will be in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

Read More
Latest Stories
Youngs Plant Farm Trial Garden feature

January 21, 2017

Don’t Miss the Southern Garden Tour This June

Growers, retailers, and all industry professionals are invited to the 2017 Southern Garden Tour, which is hosted by Young’s Plant Farms, Sakata, and Metrolina Greenhouses, and will be held June 6-8.

Read More
Gaillardia 'Mesa Red'

January 21, 2017

2016 Pike Creek Horticulture Center Field Trials Result…

Check out the 2016 field trials results for The Pike Creek Horticulture Center in Kenosha, WI.

Read More
Anna Chernyavsky

January 20, 2017

New Director of Sales for Bedding Plants and Perennials…

Anna Chernyavsky, who joined Danziger in August 2016, will be in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

Read More
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer BloomStruck’ (Bailey Nurseries)

January 19, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Hosting Spring Previews in February

The previews, which provide education, new variety information, and retail support programs, will take place in Illinois, Minnesota, and Boston.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

January 18, 2017

2016 C. Raker & Sons Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI.

Read More
Joe Cimino, Sakata Seed America

January 17, 2017

Sakata Seed Names New Senior Sales Manager for Ornament…

Joe Cimino comes to Sakata with past experience at Sun Gro and Florexpo.

Read More
JinPin Flower Seedling Company partners

January 17, 2017

Ernst Benary Partners With Chinese Young Plant Grower o…

The partnership creates a new company called Jinpin Flower Seedling Company, which will focus on providing young plants to the rapidly growing Chinese bedding plant market.

Read More
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
Begonia Whopper Experimental

January 2, 2017

2016 The Ohio State University Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

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