Evergreen fast grower grass for this purpose?

kmickleson(z9 CA)July 15, 2005

I'm doing a design where I need a fast-growing background plant for a far corner which will block a fence/alley view. It would be in a bed about 5' wide x 20 feet long, so needs to get to about 5' wide by 6-8' tall or so asap, as the folks are selling in 18 mos. or so. In front of it will go various contrasting grasses and flowering perennials, and sequential bulbs, along 20' concrete wall at the rear of this 5' deep bed.

The location is near Sacramento, CA--hot, dry summers, [maybe z 9]--full sun. I prefer a green as close to chartreuse as I could get, but realize that may not be possible. A graceful habit which will allow underplanting is desirable.

Also, how large a plant [5 or 10 gallon] might be needed to meet this goal?

Thanks for your suggestions.


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Fast and big and evergreen translates to Phormium, since pampas grass is pretty much a no-no in CA. 'Yellow Wave' or 'Wings of Gold' is about as close as you will get to chartreuse. Phorms can be found in as much as 15 gallon sizes and will be close to the height you desire at that size.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 8:29PM
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AgastacheMan(z7 CA)

Unless Phormium crossed over into the grass family, that would be a perennial offering, not a ornamental grass. If truly in zone 9, you could almost get away for having simply Miscanthus sinensis "Rotsilber" or the like, and Saccharum "Red Plume". Although in a elongated winter, these grasses are truly herbaceous, and will need to be cut down, but I have seen both genus evergreen where frost does not cut down their growing time.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 3:56PM
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I'm quite aware that Phormium is a fleshy rooted flowering perennial, however because of its appearance and habit it is often grouped with ornamental grasses and can be used in much the same manner and mixes well with true ornamental grasses and other perennials. And since it is one of a very few evergreen, grass-like plants that will readily achieve the size desired and will work well in this situation, it was suggested.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 7:50AM
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falcon857(z7 NY)

Hello; Regarding the last post, you stated that Phormium
is a perennial and then at the end you mention that it is one of a very few evergreen grasses.If Phormium is a perennial it cannot be an evergreen.In fact no perennials can be an evergreen.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 11:45AM
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Slow down people -- back to the original issue please. Gardengal didn't say Phormium was an evergreen grass, she said it was among the "evergreen grass-like plants.."

Falcon -- do you have a recommendation for a grass for Karen??

The evergreen requirement is really a tough one if grasses are a must for this planting. I defer to Agastache man on the evergreen habits of Miscanthus cultivars. Flipping through Darke's book i see that Andropogon gerardii may have some of the qualities sought and would look lovely in 14 months -- just don't tell the purchaser that they'll have to cut it down in the spring!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 12:13PM
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Falcon, I beg to differ - there are a great many evergreen perennials. I'm not sure how YOU define perennial, but the general consensus is that a perennial is any plant with a lifespan longer than two years. Under that broad characterization, even shrubs and trees are technically considered to be perennials and there should be no argument that a good many of these are indeed evergreen.

If you narrow the definition to those plants that do not form woody frameworks, eliminating trees and shrubs, leaving what most folks consider to be 'flowering' perennial plants, there are still a good many that retain their foliage throughout the year. These are of course different from herbaceous perennials, which die back to the root crown in winter, leaving no visible foliage. Climate may play a role in how evergreen these plants truly are just as it does with some larger, woody 'evergreen' plants, but just being considered a perennial does not necessarily translate into non-evergreen.

Tell me, how would you classify liriope or ophiopogon?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 9:53AM
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