Tall grass prairie species in the garden

mdahms1979May 30, 2013

I recently put in a large bed along the property line/fence in my front yard. This is an urban setting in a neighborhood where the gardens are all quite small and filled with the usual foundation plantings of shrubs and not much else.
The bed is planted with Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' , purpurescens, and Huron Sunrise closest to the fence and back of the bed with three plants of each variety. The rest of the bed is interplanted with about a dozen little bluestem, echinacea pallida, Echinacea Flame Thrower, Asclepias tuberosa, Pearly everlasting, blue flax, Salvia nemerosa, catmint, blue hair grass, blue oat grass, Baptista Solar Flare and Russian Sage.
I am finishing the area that runs along the front of the house beside a large low growing gold Juniper. There will be blue oat grass, Opuntia, Yucca, and various other grasses. I am going to add some height using grasses but am unsure of my choices. I have Panicum Dallas Blues as well as two small pots if young Indian Grass as well as Side Oat Grama Grass and seeds for Big Bluestem.
Will Big Bluestem and Indian Grass seed too aggressively for an urban garden even though it will be quite natural in appearance? Will Side Oat Grama Grass do well interplanted or will it tend to spread instead of clump?


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All three ( Big Bluestem, Indiangrass and Side Oats Grama) are easily grown from seed, so if the seeds ripen and are broadcast, they will create volunteers, especially in a favorable garden environment. Only you can decide if it's "too aggressive."

Side Oats is a bunching sod-former, like the other two. The extent of the sod will expand in time.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 11:00AM
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Thanks Don. I ended up using all of the grasses, keeping in mind their tendency to spread. Hopefully I won't be plucking too many grass seedlings out of the Opuntias.

I'm going to try some big bluestem, snowy woodrush, and Prairie dropseed from seed as well.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 1:39AM
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You'll love Luzula nivea. I started about a dozen small clumps from seed about 10 years ago, and now have several large patches of it throughout the garden. It's mostly evergreen for me, and from the hairy foliage to the gorgeous blossoms, it's a real winner.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 6:26PM
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Do you recall if you stratified the seed? I suspect I'll have to wait until next season to add this one to the garden. The woodrushes look like an interesting group. I have a soft spot for woodland sedges as well. My favorite sedge has to be our native plantain leafed sedge, an incredible plant to see growing in a large colony.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 6:42PM
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That all sounds fabulous...please post some photos...I'd love to see!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 12:15AM
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I wintersowed the Luzula, Mike. They were sown in January and they started germinating in April.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 6:28AM
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Thanks Don. I will wintersow the seeds and hopefully have a nice crop of new plants next spring. I already feel like expanding the front bed so that I will have room for the Echinacea paradoxa, Eryngium yuccifolium, Prairie Dropseed, and Big Bluestem that I will be wintersowing as well.

Scottyboi I will take some photos once the plants put on some size. The grasses for the most part were gallon sized or larger but the milkweeds and Echinacea pallida were in small 4" pots so they will take a while before they look like much.


    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 8:13PM
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