Ornamental Grasses in Zone 3

angelao(z3 Canada)June 17, 2006

Just wondering what ornamental grasses will winter in zone 3? I know ribbon grass and blue fescue, but are there any others and are not invasive?

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cailinriley(z3 Calgary AB)

Hi, Angela.

You might find this thread, from last year, very interesting and informative. Happy reading!

Here is a link that might be useful: Hardy Grass Thread--2005

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 10:35PM
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debbiecz3(z3MB)

I grow blue oat grass and this year am trying Karl Foerster feather reed grass.(calamagrostis)I know others who grow this in zone 3 and it is hardy here. Both are a clumping type grass and are not invasive.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 1:00AM
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cailinriley(z3 Calgary AB)

If you decide on 'Karl Foerster' (an absolute favourite of mine, make sure you plant it so that, at some point in the day, it's backlit by the sun.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 2:39AM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

I grow bulbous oat grass and adore it, it's a smaller size grass (maybe 15" high) but stays fairly clumped.

One of the first things I learned about grasses was that some are cool season growing, some warmer season, some clumping type of grasses, and some are spreading and invasive, which is alright in the right situation.

I made the mistake of planting ribbon grass in my front flower bed. After the first season I realized this was not a clumping sort of grass so I moved it to the backyard against the fence. Not even really in it's own flower bed, just sort of between the regular lawn grass and the fence. I think any part of the grass that grows under the fence into the neighbors yard just gets lawnmowed.

Other than that, I just have the standard blue fescue, actually the tag says 'large blue fescue'.

Have 'Skinners golden brome grass' but it seems to be quite floppy and a bit spreading. I suppose it would look best if I gave it a special spot all to itself but my biggest beef is it's 'floppyness'.

I am tempted by Karl Forester grass, but don't really have a spot for it, but have always been impressed by large impressive grasses. Too bad no one's developed a hardy pampas type grass.

Glen

Glen

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 11:51AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Has anyone here ever grown "Fibre Optic Grass"? I keep seeing it in garden centres and it's sooo cute, but I think it's an annual here and I'm not paying $9 for an annual. Anyone know if it can be overwintered indoors, or if it makes seeds?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 12:26PM
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cailinriley(z3 Calgary AB)

I've been tempted by 'Fibre Optic Grass' (Scirpus cernuus) as well, but it's only hardy to zone 8, according to some sources, and I've just discovered that it's a bog plant. (I don't have a bog garden...yet!) Sources also say it reseeds freely, and there are several vendors for FOG seeds on the web. You might be interested in the thread below, Gil. It sounds like it can also be overwintered indoors.

Fiber Optic grass companions thread:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/complants/msg0515342320655.html?4

I second Glen's vote for bulbous oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius var. bulbosum 'Variegatum'). It's a beauty, and extremely well-behaved. It always causes me a little anxiety each spring because it starts growing just a little later than my other grasses. Some sources say it goes dormant in the summer but it stays around all season in my garden...with a little shade and adequate moisture.

Another one that causes anxiety, because it's not supposed to be hardy in zone 3, is Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' (Golden Variegated Hakonechloa). Mine has not become a large clump because I don't have it in a great situation, but it comes back faithfully each year.

I just remembered another website that's a great source of information about grasses (and other perennials) that are grown in a zone 3 (?) Regina garden. This is a great site to browse through.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grasses and sedges in our garden

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 1:47PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)


Melica transsilvanica 'Red Spire' is pretty hardy, one of the first OG to bloom in my garden.

I was lucky to find these two OG for 1/2 price today!
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Avalanche'
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Eldorado'

Sharon

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 9:33PM
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Laurie_z3_MB(sw MB)

Doris, thanks for that Fiber Optic Grass thread. I'll have to try taking mine inside for the winter and see how it does. I've got it planted beside the waterfall, but maybe I should have put it in the pond. I didn't realize it liked that much moisture.

Laurie

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 10:38PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Yes thanks from me too Doris. It was very useful. I will definitely get a pot of Fibre Optic Grass next year when *hopefully* I will have some sort of pond.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 11:16PM
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angelao(z3 Canada)

Thank you everyone for responding. You provided great recommendations - I hope I can find them in my local garden centres. Thank you again.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 6:44AM
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debbiecz3(z3MB)

Gill, just to let you know I picked up fibre optic grass at Shreimers for less than 5$. I'm going to try to overwinter in indoors this year. I had luck with purple fountain grass overwintering so hopefully it will be the same for this one. And by the way, someone brought in seed for fibre optic grass for our seed exchange this year so it must be available for harvesting. Debbie.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 10:02PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Thanks Debbie, I need to get out to Schreimers again this summer - I will see if it's still there. Good to know about the PFG too. Just what I need - more stuff under lights all winter! LOL

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 10:17PM
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