Eye-Catching Ornamental Grasses

Gorgeous color and texture make these five grasses distinctive garden specimens.

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Carex 'Toffee Twist'. Slender, bronze-green foliage forms a loose mound to 18 inches tall and 2/3 as wide. A cool-season grass, 'Toffee Twist' grows actively in spring and fall — whenever temperatures stay below about 75 degrees. Give it moist, well-drained soil or potting soil in part shade to full sun. Cut back by two-thirds in early spring. Hardy to USDA Zone 7

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Tufted hair grass 'Northern Lights'. Named for its variegated foliage that takes on coral highlights in the fall, this small grass (12 inches high and wide) bears flower stalks to 3 feet tall in early summer. This plant needs moist soil and thrives in full shade or part shade. USDA Zones 4 to 9

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Fiber optic grass. Linguini-like stems with tiny flowers at the end give this grass an almost high-tech appearance. A water lover, fiber optic grass needs constant moisture and does well in a bog container garden. Hardy to only USDA Zone 8, this plant needs to come inside for the winter in colder zones.

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Mexican feather grass. Running your hands through this grass is nearly irresistible; an extremely fine-textured ornamental grass, it's among the most \"hairlike\" plants, and watching it sweeping and flowing in the breeze is a pleasure. But be warned that this plant has a dark side: It's extremely invasive, self-seeding with abandon in dry, sunny climates.

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Variegated red fountain grass 'Fireworks' The first variegated purple fountain grass, 'Fireworks' has the usual maroon center ribs but the leaf margins are hot pink. The usual size is 3 to 6 feet tall, so if you want to grow this as a container plant, the pot needs to be pretty large. Cold hardy to USDA Zone 9

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