15 Favorite Ornamental Grasses

These ornamental grasses are ideal grasses for landscaping and mix well with other perennials.
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Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

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.

Fountain Grass

Fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) is an upright, mound-forming plant. An excellent ornamental grass, use fountain grass as an accent or specimen plant in middle of borders or with perennials. A mass planting produces a colorful display.

'Fireworks' Variegated Red Fountain Grass

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 Zone 9.

Japanese Blood Grass

Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica) is a beautiful plant with shoots of sword-shaped leaves that emerge green and then turn red during summer, deepening to a darker crimson.

Pampas Grass

Cortaderia selloana, pampas grass, bears silver white plumes with a pink blush. It remains attractive until mid-winter and is good in dried arrangements. Its impressive size and graceful aspect makes it one of the most recognized plants.

'Northern Lights' Tufted Hair Grass

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 in Zones 4 to 9.

Maiden Grass

Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis) is an arching, graceful grass that forms dense clumps of green or variegated foliage. It is used in landscape as a specimen, screen or a nice mass of textured foliage. It requires full sun.

Needle Grass

Needle grass (Stipa capillata) is a beautiful and distinctive ornamental grass forming dense clumps of grey-green foliage and highly decorative, upright, silvery-white plumes in summer.

Blue Oat Grass

Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) is loved for its dramatic foliage and spiky architecture. Plants form a clump of bright, silvery-blue leaves, with taller arching stems of flowers appearing in early summer.

Quaking Grass

Quaking grass (Briza media) has small heads of flowers that nod gracefully in the breeze. This annual should be sown each year in the spring.

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 F. 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 Zone 7.

'Aurea' Tufted Sedge

Carex elata 'Aurea' has vivid foliage that adds bright color to the garden. The yellow seems to glow in partial shade. Use this dramatic clump of foliage near water or in shallow water, or in another moist location.

Variegated Giant Reed Grass

Giant reed grass (Arundo donax) is a tall, perennial grass that can grow to over 20 feet in height. Leaves are elongate, with flowers that are borne in 2-foot-long, plume-like panicles during August and September.

Hare's Tail Grass

Looking like Peter Rabbit hunting for Easter eggs, hare's tail grass (Lagurus ovatus) is topped by cream to chartreuse puffballs of flowers in early summer. Also known as rabbit's tail grass, its puffball flowers turn to rich tan and dry out beautifully on the plant.

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 Zone 8, this plant needs to come inside for the winter in colder zones.