Growing Ornamental Grasses

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March 15, 2006
Growing: Ornamental Grasses

Life Cycle:


Planting Time:

spring or summer


height varies from compact mounds to tall screens to spreading mats


full sun to partial shade


all types; most grasses are adaptable to soggy, dry or nutrient poor sites where other plants will not grow


depends on variety

Bloom Time:

depends on grass type


a wide variety of colorful flower spikes including maroon, red, pink, silver, white, yellow or beige.


various textures and colors including greens, blues, reds, whites, yellows and variegated blades; seed heads range from inconspicuous to dramatic feathery plumes



Suggested Use:

fillers, screens, borders, backdrops, ground covers, winter interest, container plants, ornamental accents and dried arrangements

Growing Hints:

Growing requirements vary by grass type. Care should be taken to provide adequate space for growth, without allowing grasses to take over your garden. Grasses should be spaced as far apart from other plants as they are tall. Set plants into prepared holes so that root balls rest just below the surface. Holes should be twice as deep as the root ball. Add compost before filling.

Grass should receive 1 inch of water per week throughout the first season. Add mulch around base in the fall to protect roots and shoots from freezing over winter and to provide new nutrients for next season's growth. Fertilize in the spring with a slow release 3-1-2 fertilizer. Common oriental grasses include: Pampas, Purple Fountain Grass, Blue Fescue, Maiden Grass and Zebra Grass.

Pruning Oriental Grasses:

Grasses experiencing winter dieback can be cut back to within a few inches of the ground in early spring before new growth begins. Evergreen grasses generally do not need trimming or pruning.

More Solutions

This page contains the following solutions.

July 13, 2010

In the past few years, ornamental grasses have quickly gained popularity among gardeners. Not only do they add height, sound, movement, and visual appeal to garden landscapes, but they also thrive in less-than-ideal soil conditions and require only a minimal amount of maintenance.

Grow Ornamental Grasses


April 12, 2012

Ornamental grasses are versatile garden plants without being fussy about care and maintenance. In the spring and summer they bring color, texture, and an airy, casual appearance to garden spaces.

Ornamental Grasses


8 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

May 9, 2015

We have a beautiful ornamental fountain grass that my husband trimmed too short, at the mulch level. The grass came back this spring, but it's only growing around last year's dead growth leaving an ugly brown center. Can we do anything to save it? If yes, what is the best option and timing?



Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
November 17, 20170 found this helpful

It will come back. (Mine did after it was accidentally brush hogged...) But, it took mine about 3 years to come back. This year, it was over 16 foot high, which was actually taller than what it had ever been before.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
November 17, 20170 found this helpful

It is recommended to cut it back in late fall, so I assume it does grow back.

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April 20, 2006
Q: I think I'm zone 5/6. I would like to plant ornamental grasses near my deck. It's partial sun. Morning and then afternoon. I was told it needs full sun. Any help? Any ideas also where I can get it in smaller pots so it's not so costly?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Valery from NJ

A: Valery,

Many ornamental grasses grow best in full sun, but there are still options hardy to zone 5 that tolerate partial shade. Keep in mind that most grasses need a minimum of 3 to 5 hours of direct sun per day to flower and present their best color. It really depends on whether you're looking for something that gets off to an early start(cool season grasses), or something that blooms later in the summer (warm season grasses). Also consider height, color and annual or perennial. Here are a few to check into:


Blue Fescue has a gorgeous silvery-blue color (and other colors depending on variety) and grows about 12-18 inches tall and keeps its color through fall.

Feather Reed Grass (Karl Forester) grows from 3-5 feet tall. This grass adds a very architectural element to the garden with vertical green stalks and white to reddish white flowers.

Little Bluestem is a silvery-green color in the summer and turns an orange/red in the fall. It grows to a height of 2-4 feet.

The seed heads of Quaking Grass sound like the tail of a rattle snake when dry and are a great addition to fresh and dried arrangements. It grows to about 12-18 inches tall.

Also consider Idaho Fescue (Siskiyou Blue), Blue Oat Grass, June Grass, Prarie Dropseed and Silky threadgrass.

Many ornamental grasses can be grown successfully from seed (especially annuals), which is always cheaper than buying them in pots. I would start with posting on the seed exchange and then search Ornamental Grass Seed online.




By (Guest Post)
March 31, 20060 found this helpful

Hi, I live in zone 7 and have ornamental grasses and they have thrived in the shade. ginny

By (Guest Post)
April 2, 20060 found this helpful

I live in zone 5 and my ornamental grass is located in the shade. Grows nicely with no problems. Have you tried (or interested in) using seeds from the nursery/store?

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July 21, 2016

I planted red fountain grasses in a pot and it has not grown tall like it should have. All the other plants in the pot are doing fine. Did I plant the grass too deep?


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
March 12, 20170 found this helpful

I have never seen in grown in a container before, so I am not sure if it could be root bound Mine doesn't seem to reach its full height until later in fall, where it gets to be around 4 to 6 feet tall. It needs full sun. Since it gets so tall, it would need deep roots so that its not top heavy, which makes me wonder if its just not happy in a container. Of course, there may also be smaller versions of it that I am not aware of, that you may have.

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October 3, 2014

Can I harvest the seed from my zebra grass to spread on a hillside? I am unsure if these plants' seeds are harvestable in this manner. Thank you.

By Linda


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
December 6, 20170 found this helpful

You can, but its hard to do it outside because you have to sow them on top the soil and birds get them. Its best to collect the seeds and start them inside. Then you can move them out to where you want them in the spring.


I have one plant that is now over 15 feet tall. I fertilize mine well, and it expands so you can also divide the plants.

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May 31, 2020

Phalaris is a genus of beautiful grasses found throughout the world except for Antarctica. It grows well under a variety of conditions. They have broad leaves and a dense spike of flowers.

A patch of phalaris grass growing by some decorative rocks.

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