Outstanding Ornamental Grasses For Landscapes And Containers

Ornamental grasses have it all — beauty, versatility, adaptability — and then some. With striking new colors and showier flowers, they present growers with the perfect opportunity to offer a real value item to their customers.

Plus, widespread cultivation and consumer demand means availability is better than ever. Jim Nau of Ball Horticultural Co. points out that the availability of more interesting ornamental grass varieties from seed means the ability to produce in smaller-than-normal pack or pot sizes. “Growers appreciate the flexibility of being able to buy plugs, which in turn makes grasses more readily available to landscape contractors,” Nau says.

 

 

 

In addition, you’ll also want to make sure you’re up-to-date if you tend to stick to the tried and true.
To that end, Susan Martin of Walters Garden urges growers to take the time to learn about recent introductions because the market has seen significant changes over the past decade in genera like pennisetum, panicum, andropogon and schizachyrium.

Ornamental Grasses Are Perfect For Containers

Containers aren’t just for flowers anymore. With a little creativity, ornamental grasses can be stunning alone or grouped together in just the right container.

Pamela Straub of Emerald Coast Growers says ornamental grasses biggest benefit is the visual effect they add to containers with their cascading foliage and varied textures. She suggests unique combos such as juncus, acorus and carex, and pennisetum and sedum. For single-grass containers use P. ‘Fireworks’ pennisetum and ‘Prairie Blue’ schizachyrium.

“Size and form matters when combining grasses with other plants, keep in mind how the grass grows,” Nau says. “Consider how the grass spreads at the top, not just at the base of the plant. Pick the right container for the grass and its companions. Match more vigorous, open varieties with equally vigorous plants.”

One common issue with combination containers is timing. Scott Epps of Hoffman Nursery says warm season grasses can be slow to get going in early spring, especially if it is cool. Fast-growing annuals can overtake the grasses before they have a chance to take off. Epps advises planting a larger grass, using a smaller annual plug or delaying planting by a couple of weeks.

For containers, Epps recommends two cool season grasses for their small size and great color. Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ and Arrhenatherum elatius subsp. bulbosum ‘Variegatum.’ Additionally, try Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ for exceptional performance in low-water conditions.

Ornamental Grasses Suitable For Almost Any Landscape

In addition to making great container plants, grasses are an excellent choice for the landscape, especially in low water areas.

Allen Bush of Jelitto suggests grasses like Saccharum ravennae for height, Stipa tenuissima for broad sweeps and Sporobolus wrightii for an accent plant.

Other notable grasses include pennisetum ‘Desert Plains,’ which can be used for a focal point in a sunny landscapes and schizachyrium ‘Standing Ovation,’ a tough performer that keeps a tight, upright habit through most of the season. For a mid-summer flush of purple-mauve color, try schizachyrium ‘Twilight Zone.’

Ornamental grasses have also become a viable alternative to water-loving varieties in the landscape. Some grasses actually look their best and perform better, once established, in dry land situations than in regularly watered landscapes, according to Chuck Pavlich of Terra Nova Nurseries.
Jeff Gibson of Ball Horticultural Co. adds that consumers are using more drought-tolerant grasses to replace traditional lawns. “This trend will spread nationally and should not be underestimated, even in places like the upper Midwest and the Great Lakes,” Gibson says.

Proven Winners’ Rick Schoellhorn sees potential for growers to create a niche for themselves by offering more grasses that take the shade, especially dry shade, because recent outbreaks of downy mildew in impatiens have created a gap in consumers’ shade selections, causing them to branch out and explore new landscape options.

Luzula sylvatica ‘Solar Flair’ is a great option for mixing with perennials in partial shade areas, while Milium effusum ‘ColorGrass Flashlights’ will brighten up any low-light area with its eye-catching chartreuse foliage.

And don’t forget native grasses. Peggy Anne Montgomery of American Beauties Native Plants says natives such as Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind,’ Sporobolus wrightii ‘Windbreaker’ and Muhlenbergia capillaris (Hairy Awn Muhly) increase biodiversity in the landscape and provide habitat for all sorts of wildlife.

Sedges — A Grass-Like Trend Gaining Momentum

Another landscape option that is not really a true grass, but still falls solidly in the ornamental grass category is sedges.

“A big trend in the grass world is the increased use of carex as native groundcovers to reduce the amount of mulching,” says Carrie Wiles of North Creek Nurseries. “They have excellent functionality in the landscape, address a number of landscape problems and are a great choice for low maintenance gardening and less watering.”

Wiles recommends Carex vulpinoidea and C. comosa for phytoremediation projects, stormwater management, erosion control and salt tolerance. Fox sedge is also deer resistant. C. pensylvanica is excellent as a groundcover in shady areas, as a background planting for shade-loving perennials or for soft texture in containers. For standout color, try carex ‘EverColor Everillo.’

Explore The Possibilities

By knowing which grasses work best in containers and those that are best suited to various landscape situations, growers can increase their market edge substantially. They need only explore the possibilities.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Outstanding Ornamental Grasses For Landscapes And Containers

  1. It’s nice to see more of the Native Grasses being offered and available….the Pennisetums here in Maine have a short life span and then die out horribly in the middle of the crown…Chasmanthium should have been on the list I’m increasingly learning how adaptable the plant is.

More From Varieties...
Pleasant View Gardens Savor Edibles

July 22, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens Targets Millennials With Savor Edibles

Taking something as ubiquitous as vegetables and herbs and giving it a fresh new look is no easy task, but Pleasant View Gardens took on the challenge with extensive research and creative marketing.

Read More
Dummen New Columbus Office

July 21, 2016

Dümmen Orange Opens New North American Headquarters In Columbus, OH

The new office, which officially opened during Cultivate’16, supports the company’s vision to be integrated into a vibrant and inspiring community, and provides a bright, modern workspace for its approximately 30 local employees.

Read More
Pollen Free Lisianthus

July 20, 2016

Sakata Seed Develops World’s First Pollen-Free Lisianthus

With no stamen to produce pollen, the new Lisianthus varieties have improved flower durability and the benefit of no scattered pollen that can cause staining of flowers and machines.

Read More
Latest Stories
Pleasant View Gardens Savor Edibles

July 22, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens Targets Millennials With Savor Ed…

Taking something as ubiquitous as vegetables and herbs and giving it a fresh new look is no easy task, but Pleasant View Gardens took on the challenge with extensive research and creative marketing.

Read More
Dummen New Columbus Office

July 21, 2016

Dümmen Orange Opens New North American Headquarters In …

The new office, which officially opened during Cultivate’16, supports the company’s vision to be integrated into a vibrant and inspiring community, and provides a bright, modern workspace for its approximately 30 local employees.

Read More
Pollen Free Lisianthus

July 20, 2016

Sakata Seed Develops World’s First Pollen-Free Lisianth…

With no stamen to produce pollen, the new Lisianthus varieties have improved flower durability and the benefit of no scattered pollen that can cause staining of flowers and machines.

Read More

July 19, 2016

17 New Vegetable Intros For Greenhouse Production

New varieties of edibles introduced at 2016 California Spring Trials offer something for every type of gardener, from the beginning do-it-yourselfer to the hardcore, heirloom-only type. Check out some of the new varieties we saw at Spring Trials this year that will be available for retail in 2017.

Read More
One Earth Edibles From Peace Tree Farm

July 16, 2016

How To Capture Your Share Of The Edibles Market

At Peace Tree Farm, One Earth Edibles represent healthy living on a healthy planet.

Read More
Terra Nova Nurseries Catalog

July 15, 2016

New Product Catalog From Terra Nova Nurseries Designed …

The new catalog, which made its debut at Cultivate’16, offers easy access to organized genera grouped alphabetically, and also by size, color, habit, top sellers, photography, newest varieties, and USDA horticultural zones.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 8, 2016

Pleasant View Gardens And D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Ope…

The 20th annual event will feature new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as annuals, combos, and Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles and Fragrants line.

Read More
NatureSweet

July 5, 2016

NatureSweet And Ganfer Partner On Tomato Production

The partnership will add more than 250 acres of NatureSweet greenhouse tomato production over the next three years.

Read More
SunPatiens Sakata Medal of Excellence Feature

June 29, 2016

SunPatiens Earns The 2016 Medal Of Excellence In Market…

With its reputation for excellent garden performance from spring to frost, and as a problem-solver for Impatiens Downy Mildew, SunPatiens has become a “hero plant” that helps gardeners succeed.

Read More
Kelly Norris - feature

June 28, 2016

Kelly Norris: Three Variety Trends That Caught My Eye T…

My reflections on promising new plants, the realities of market penetration, and adding value along the supply chain.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

June 25, 2016

Three Types Of Plant Consumers To Watch

There are three emerging groups of plant consumers that you should be targeting for plant sales in the future, according to Allan Armitage.

Read More
FleuroStar Award Ceremony

June 20, 2016

Begonia Hybrid ‘Miss Malibu’ Takes Home FleuroStar Awar…

The award from Fleuroselect was announced at the Green Inspiration Event in Amsterdam.

Read More
Caryopteris 'Beyond Midnight Bluebeard'

June 20, 2016

Keep The Sales Coming With 16 New Blooming Varieties Fo…

Plants that put on a show from first frost long into fall and offer the color options consumers want for their gardens go a long way toward extending sales further into the season and can help maintain your sales momentum going strong. Check out these 16 new blooming varieties, both traditional favorites and new alternatives, for your fall crop selection.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 18, 2016

Mark Your Calendar For Sakata Seed Trials In August

Sakata has set two dates for its California-based trials: Aug. 15-17 in Salinas, and Aug. 17-19 in Woodland.

Read More
Tomato Congress Logo

June 15, 2016

International Tomato Congress In Mexico Will Focus On G…

The event, which takes place in San Luis Potosi from July 20-22, will feature discussions on production strategies, cost management in protected structures, and optimizing your greenhouse environment.

Read More
Nir Nursery Wax Flower Pot Plant

June 14, 2016

Danziger Reaches Deal To Distribute Nir Nursery Varieti…

With the agreement, Danziger becomes the exclusive distributor of Nir’s product line, which includes cut flowers, foliage, pot, and garden plants.

Read More

June 14, 2016

Dümmen Orange Expands Its Succulent Offerings Through N…

According to Dümmen Operations Director Kate Santos, succulents are an attractive growth category because of their ease of use, shelf life in stores, drought tolerance, and versatility in application.

Read More
'Osaka' Flowering Cabbage (Sakata Ornamentals)

June 14, 2016

New Cool Season, Vegetable, And Foliage Crops For Fall …

Whether you’re providing pansies and violas to the garden center for fall color or decorative edibles to grace patio containers, consider these 16 varieties for fall crop sales, newly introduced for 2016 and hitting retail in 2017.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]