Grasses, Ornamental, Perennials Guide to Planting Flowers

Grasses, Ornamental, Perennials Guide to Planting Flowers

Grasses, Ornamental

Arrhenatherum bulbosum variegatum

A dwarf, decorative grass of tufted habit growing only 8 inches high. The green and white leaves retain their clear color throughout ‘ the season. It is used where a white edging or border is desired.

Arundo Donax-Giant Reed

This is the tallest of the ornamental grasses, sometimes growing in rich, deep soil to a height of 20 feet. The long, drooping leaves of a bright green color are produced from the base to the top of the stem, somewhat resembling a corn plant, though more graceful. Late in Summer the plant produces showy reddish brown plumes over a foot long. which turn a silvery gray at maturity. The Giant Reed is useful for the centers of large beds, in the backgrounds of borders or as specimens in the lawn. It refuses to be at home in stiff, clayey soil, preferring a deep, sandy loam and a sheltered position. Variegated forms are obtainable; they have leaves striped with white. This latter port seldom grows over 12 feet tall and is not entirely hardy without protection in the colder climates.


The Bamboos form a group of interesting grasses, interesting because of their association with many uses to which they are put by the Japanese. Few of our outdoor Bamboos, however, grow so that we can actually use them for fishpoles. They are usually more bushy. Three principal genera of grasses are known as Bamboos, namely: Bambusa, Arundinaria and Phyllostachys. Generally speaking it is wise to protect all of the sorts listed as Bamboos. The choicest and hardiest sorts include the following:

Arundinaria auricoma. This grass is an excellent purple-stemmed variety, having green and yellow variegated foliage. It is rather dwarf, growing only 3 feet tall.

Arundinaria Fortunei. This is the smallest of the common hardy Bamboos, growing only 18 inches tall and having evergreen foliage, variegated green and white. Although it lacks the grace of the taller varieties, it is often used for edging or in rockeries.

Arundinaria’ japonica (B. Metake).Arrow Bamboo. This handsome variety from Japan forms dense masses 8 feet to 10 Feet high. The leaves remain on the plant in good condition well into Midwinter. This sort is reliable and thrives under trying conditions.

Arundinaria Simonii. This sort is distinct and of vigorous growth, the branches being grouped in dense clusters. The narrow, green leaves are occasionally striped with white. It grows 20 feet tall in China although 15 feet is considered to he a good growth in this country.

Bambusa palmata. This is an effective, broad-leaved species forming dense clumps 4 feet high. The bright green leaves are often 15 inches long and 3 inches wide.

Phyllostachys aurea. Golden Bamboo. This graceful Chinese sort has close jointed canes which are light green when young, but change to a straw yellow when mature. The plants grow 15 feet tall and are covered with small branches which bear soft green foliage.

Elymus-Blue Lime Grass

Elymus glaucus is an excellent grass of spreading habit, with narrow, bluish-green leaves. It makes an earlier start in Spring than most grasses and grows 3 feet high.

Erianthus-Plume Grass, Hardy Pampas Grass

In habit Erianlhus Razenrax resembles the Pampas Grass, but it is not as ornamental because the plumes are not as showy. It grows 5 feet to 10 feet tall. In a sunny location, in well-drained soil, this grass is attractive as a specimen or for use among shrubs.

Eulalia or Miscanthus-Japanese Rush

The plain green and variegated sorts of Eulalia are of great value in the garden. They grow 5 feet to 7 feet tall. Eulalia japonica has deep green leaves 2 feet to 3 feet long and over an inch wide. E. gracillima has long, drooping leaves, narrower than the former sort and with a stripe of white through the center. E. japonica zebrina, the Zebra grass, has leaves which are variegated, being marked crosswise with broad, yellowish white bands.

Festuca-Blue Fescue

This little tufted grass, Festuca glauca, has silvery-blue foliage and grows only 10 inches tall. The plants are evergreen, but it is advisable to cut the old leaves from the plants early in the Spring before the new crop is produced. It is especially recommended for edging in the perennial border and in the rock garden.

Gynerium or Cortaderia-Pampas Grass

“What is there growing in the garden or wild more nobly distinct and beautiful than the great silvery plumes of this plant waving in the autumnal gusts-the burial plumes as it were, of our Summer too early dead,” writes Robinson in “Subtropical Gardening.” Unfortunately, the plants are rather tender and require mulching in Winter, or they may be taken up and wintered in a cool cellar. The plumes are the handsomest, most graceful of all grasses and the needed care is worth the trouble.

Pennisetum-Fountain Grass

Most of the Fountain Grasses are annuals, but Pennisetum japonicum is a perennial, grows 3 feet to 4 feet tall, and has fox tail-like plumes of rich mahogany tipped with white.

Phalaris-Ribbon Grass, Gardener’s Garter

This grass is a favorite of old gardens where it spreads widely. The leaves of Phalaris arundinacea picla are attractively striped with pure white. It is useful as a border for the taller perennial grasses because it grows 2 feet tall. It thrives especially well in wet soil and may be used on the margins of ponds. In soil too rich it loses its variegation.

Uniola-Spike Grass

The Spike Grass, Uniola latifolia, has arching leaves an inch wide, and broad, flat spikelets produced in loose drooping clusters. It grows 3 feet tall.


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