Apr 23, 2019
The Value and Appeal of GrassesBy Jasmina Dolce

If you haven’t noticed by now, ornamental grasses are a seriously hot plant category at the consumer level. And they have been for quite some time now. Some may have thought the interest in grasses would be a quick fad, but they have proven their value in the landscape and are here to stay.

Maria Zampini, president of UpShoot LLC, a horticulture marketing firm, shared her thoughts on the grass category in the April issue of GPN. In her article, “On Trend: Ornamental Grasses,” Zampini says, “As gardens (and the plants that occupy them) have shifted toward lower maintenance, native driven, and nature friendly, ornamental grasses have fit every bill that today’s gardener demands — while providing the contrast, texture and form that designers crave.”

So what are some landscape trends that growers can capitalize on through ornamental grasses? Check them out below, along with a grass or two for each.

Bright color beyond flowers: Color trends seem to hang on for several years before shifting, and right now there’s a big focus on minty green shades. Festuca ‘Beyond Blue’ offers outstanding color during summer but continues to shine in the winter months as well.

Hot color is also “in,” and Little Bluestem ‘Twilight Zone’ has green leaves with blue-purple tips that are truly out of this world. Grasses this colorful can be marketed as container thrillers or landscape focal points.

Festuca ‘Beyond Blue’
Concept Plants
Festuca Beyond Blue - Concept Plants

Schizachyrium ‘Twilight Zone’
Walters Gardens
Little Bluestem Twilight Zone - Walters Gardens

Easy care gardens: Ornamental grasses and grass-like plants are ideal for low-maintenance plantings because their beauty belies their tough-as-nails nature. Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ has weather-resistant stems, cold hardiness and the ability to to beautifully thrive in many soil types.

Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’
Hoffman Nursery Inc.
Bouteloua Blonde Ambition - Hoffman Nursery

Prairie/meadow plantings: Native grasses are crucial to both micro-prairies in front yards and full-on large scale prairie restoration projects. Native grasses lure invaluable pollinators, help control erosion, provide shelter and nesting sites for birds and small mammals, and contribute to healthy and fertile soil structures. Andropogon ‘Blackhawks’ is an exciting newcomer featuring upright foliage that transitions from green to purple to almost black as the weather cools.

Andropogon ‘Blackhawks’
Intrinsic Perennial Gardens
Andropogon Blackhawks - Intrinsic Perennial Gardens

Do you grow ornamental grasses? Have you seen their popularity grow in recent years? What are some of your favorite varieties? Shoot me an email at [email protected], and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

To read Zampini’s full article and to learn more about grasses, click here.

— Jasmina

Jasmina Dolce

Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]

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