Get creative with ornamental grasses
Add striking texture, character and form to your garden with ornamental grass.
From dainty Blue Fescue Grass to majestic Miscanthus, ornamental grasses provide a quality unmatched by many other hardy perennials. Their presence develops through the seasons as bright and colourful foliage is joined by graceful swaying flower heads that last well into winter.
In large borders grasses can be planted in bold groups or striking drifts, but many varieties perform well in large patio pots, positioned where their individual shape and arching form can be fully appreciated. Popular grasses for pots include compact Blue Fescue Grass and Slender Sweet Flag ‘Ogon’, or taller varieties of Miscanthus such as the Zebra Grass (Miscanthus ‘Zebrinus’).
Taller grasses also add movement to otherwise static displays, catching a summer breeze to add interest and catch the eye. Growing to around two metres in height, the bold form of Golden Oats (Stipa gigantea) is a real showstopper! Or if space allows try planting a statuesque clump of Pampas Grass, and enjoy their feathery plumes right into winter.
Ornamental grasses offer great value, and these popular Plants of the Moment produce long-lasting displays in any garden. Large individuals have a real presence, taking pride of place in beds and borders, while colourful planting combinations can be created with flowering perennials like Black-eyed Susan, Coneflowers and Ice Plants.
Top four ornamental grasses
Festuca, Pennisetum, Miscanthus, Stipa
Top tips for planning and planting
Be generous and plant grasses in drifts or bold groups rather than as lonely individuals.
Grasses grow well in patio pots, but make sure tall varieties are planted in large, heavy pots to prevent them blowing over in strong winds.
Line terracotta pots with plastic from old compost bags to help conserve moisture.
The tops of some perennial, like miscanthus, die over winter. Promptly cut away all old growth to avoid damaging new shoots that start emerging in early spring.
Other popular ornamental grasses
Slender Sweet Flag ‘Ogon’ (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’), Arundo donax, Cortaderia (Pampas Grass), Imperata, Millium, Miscanthus, Stipa
Planting partners for ornamental grasses
Achillea, Astrantia, Bergamot (Monarda didyma), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’), Centaurea, Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’, Herb Fennel