13 Terrific Tall Grasses

Include vertical interest in your plantings with tall ornamental grasses.
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Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

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Photo By: Image courtesy of All-American Selections

Photo By: Image courtesy of PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Photo By: Image courtesy of PerennialResource.com

Frost Grass (Spodiopogon sibiricus)

Frost grass brings a bamboo-like look to the garden with horizontal leaves, which take on purple to burgundy tints in fall. Plants grow 4 to 5 feet tall. Give this grass sun to light shade in fertile, well-drained soil on the moist side. Hot, dry conditions kill frost grass. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

‘Northwind’ Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’)

‘Northwind’ combines classic switch grass color of olive- to blue-green leaves with a narrow footprint to create a strong, tall grass clump. Leaves top out around 4 to 6 feet. Flower plumes appear in midsummer, bringing the total height to 7 feet. Plumes linger through winter. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' Ornamental Millet

You'll recognize this ornamental millet, Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty,' by its large, cattail-like plumes and dark purple foliage. Use this All-American Selections Gold Medal Winner for cut flowers, as a backdrop for shorter plants or in large, mixed containers.

‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’)

Need a grass for wet soil? Check out ‘Karl Foerster’. This feather reed grass forms tight clumps 12 to 18 inches wide with leaves 3 to 5 feet tall. Seedheads emerge in early summer and take the plant height to 6 feet. Flower plumes start purple-green and ripen to gold in autumn. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

‘Feather Pink’ Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana ‘Feather Pink’)

Silky pink flower plumes appear on grass clumps in late summer and linger all winter long. Pampas grass needs room in the landscape—clumps grow 5 to 12 feet tall and 4 to 7 feet wide. This grass has razor sharp edges. Always wear long sleeves and gloves when working around it. This grass is invasive in some areas. Hardy in Zones 8 to 10.

Blue Heaven Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium ‘MinnblueA’)

Blue Heaven forms tight, tall clumps filled with steel blue leaves. Plants grow to 4 feet, with flower plumes adding another foot to overall height. Reddish-brown flowers transform into silver-white heads that linger into early winter. Leaves turn burgundy in fall. Hardy in Zones 3 to 9.

‘Indian Warrior’ Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii ‘Indian Warrior’)

‘Indian Warrior’ is a hybrid of native big bluestem grass, which was the predominant plant in the American tallgrass prairie. Plants top out at 5 to 6 feet and thrive in any soil but wet. Flower stalks appear in late summer and linger into winter. Leaves develop smoky purple tints in fall, ripening to purple-red. Hardy in Zones 3 to 9.

Porcupine Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’)

Grow this grass to bring a menagerie to your yard. Upright, stiff leaves mimic the quills of a porcupine, while horizontal gold bands give green leaves a zebra effect. Coppery pink flowers don’t appear until fall, so if frost arrives early in your region, you may never see this grass bloom. Winter foliage is dusky brown. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

‘Dixieland’ Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Dixieland’)

Green and white variegated leaves form a 4- to 5-foot fountain in this ornamental grass. The variegated pattern in leaves is such that, from a distance, the grass appears mostly white. It sparkles when planted against dark evergreens. Pink flower plumes appear in late summer and linger into winter. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

‘Prairie Sky’ Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Sky’)

Powder-blue leaves turn yellow in fall, fading to brown for winter. ‘Prairie Sky’ has a strongly columnar form, growing 4 to 6 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Flowers open in dark red in midsummer and linger until midwinter in beige shades. This grass may self-sow. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.

‘Pumila’ Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’)

Pampas grass is known for its large, showy flower plumes, which appear in late summer. ‘Pumila’ is a dwarf version that grows 4 to 6 feet tall and only 3 to 4 feet wide. Flower heads are still large and fluffy, though, perfect for dried arrangements. Pampas grass can be invasive in some areas. Hardy in Zones 5 to 10.

‘Eldorado’ Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Eldorado’)

Green leaves sport gold midribs on this ornamental grass. Clumps have a strong upright form that’s versatile and low-maintenance in the landscape. Leaves reach 4 to 5 feet tall. Gold-tinted flowers form in early summer, taking the height to 6 feet. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.

Hardy Pampas Grass (Erianthus ravennae)

Gray green leaves form clumps that grow to 5 feet tall. In late summer, silvery flower spikes appear and add another 3 to 6 feet to the clump, bringing the final height to 8 to 12 feet. Plants are adaptable, growing in any soil, as long as it’s in full sun. Fall color features blends of orange, purple, beige and brown. Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.