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Hardy Ornamental Grasses

Everyone keeps talking about the beauty of ornamental grasses. I want to add a few to my landscape. Which ones are the hardiest and easiest to grow?

Consider the 2001 Perennial Plant of the Year, Karl Forester feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Forester’). This is hardy (zones 3 to 8), tolerates difficult growing conditions and grows 4 to 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Blue oat grass (Helictoctrichon sempervirens) is my favorite blue foliaged grass. Hardy in zones 3 to 8 it is more tolerant of heavy soils than blue fescue. Blue oat grass forms an attractive clump 2 to 3 feet tall.

The smaller blue fescue (Festuca) is good for well-drained areas subject to salty conditions.

The native switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is hardy to zone 3 to 9 and creates a large stand of attractive grass. Use one of the tamer cultivars for smaller plantings.

A large grass plant (4 to 12 feet tall) with lots of attractive cultivars is Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis). These make great specimens for small landscapes, screens for larger areas and provide year round interest. Some of the Miscanthus cultivars are hardy to zone 3 and many to zone 4.


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