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...
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