Choose from some of the best ornamental grasses for texture and color, as garden thrillers in containers with other plants, or simply in your landscape.
Ornamental grasses, adaptable in many local gardening areas, add height and tolerate periods without watering, bringing visual interest to your space all season long. Many can be grown as annuals and some come back year-after-year. Read on to find out the best ornamental grasses for texture and color to use in your garden.
Best Ornamental Grasses for Texture and Color
Blue Mohawk Soft Rush
From Proven Winners’ Graceful Grasses collection, there’s ‘Blue Mohawk Soft Rush’ that brings stunning upright bluish-green foliage. Known also as juncus grass, it works well in a water garden, in the landscape and as a beautiful thriller in a container. Blue Mohawk is a warm-season grass, which means it won’t start growing until mid to late spring or early summer.
To maintain Blue Mohawk, use hedge shears or pruning shears to cut back the ornamental grasses foliage by late spring. It will turn brown as the weather turns colder. If you live in an area where fire isn’t a problem, you can leave the dried grasses and seed heads in your garden for winter.
Grow in full sun as an annual or as a perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.
Purple Fountain Grass
Purple Fountain Grass brings rich burgundy stems and flowers that offer much color and texture in any garden. Plant it in the landscape or in containers. Proven Winners offers ‘Red Riding Hood,’ a dwarf purple fountain grass (shown above) in its Graceful Grasses collection. This variety grows to two and a half feet tall. It works well in a garden or in containers.
Purple fountain grass grows in partial to full sun as an annual, though ‘Rubrum’ and other varieties are hardy as perennials. Check plant tags to know for sure.
Graceful Grasses Fiber Optic Grass
Graceful Grasses Fiber Optic Grass from Proven Winners provides bright green grasslike foliage with tiny, fluffy flowers on the stem tips that bloom from early to late summer. This beauty gets treated as an annual in the landscape, containers or as a water garden in most zones. But this adaptable ornamental grass works well as a houseplant.
Fiber optic ornamental grass grows in areas with at least four hours or more of sun in hardiness zones 8 to 10 as a perennial.
Pink Muhly Grass
Known as Muhlenberg grass, pink muhly grass is drought-tolerant and a great choice as borders, planted in groups or as a stunning thriller in a container. Cut blooms look pretty in fresh or dried arrangements. This drought-tolerant variety is special for its ability to tolerate poorly drained soils.
Pink Muhly grows best in hardiness zones 7 to 10, or grow it as an annual.
For a container grass, try ‘Platinum Beauty’ lomandra in the Southern Living Plant Collection for an attractive filler. This green and white striped ornamental grass thrives in tough environments and soil conditions.
Lomandra grows best in full sun to part shade as an annual except in hardiness zones 8 to 10.
This traditional ornamental grass grows dramatic plumes that can reach more than 10 feet tall. Pampas grass forms clumping habits and spreads. Take precautions and wear gardening gloves when planting and pruning because these blades of ornamental grass are sharp enough to cut skin.
Pampas Grass needs full sun and grows best in hardiness zones 7 to 11.
Get more information about choosing ornamental grasses, including by regional climate area.
More about Ornamental Grasses
Keeping the attractive, dried foliage of ornamental grasses through winter provides birds with warm shelter and food while serving to insulate the plant during winter. In late winter or early spring, select a warm day to cut back ornamental grasses. Find out more about maintaining and cutting back ornamental grasses in containers and your landscape.