Hardy Ornamental Grasses

garystpaul(4)February 24, 2007

I see some beautiful ornamental grasses growing around the Twin Cities, in gardens and parks, some of them quite a sight in winter also. Does anyone know where I could find a list of reliably hardy grasses for my garden? Maybe something with culture notes and pictures? I'd be most grateful. GaryStPaul

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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

This is probably not what you wanted- but if you google ornamental grass zone 4- a huge amount of selections come up- UofM, Bachmans, and more! I think Gardens North and Blue Stone perennials both have a fair selection of grasses as well-
I am not that big on grasses- but I am starting a few for my brother who wants a "wall" of grass that doesn't need mowing to give him some cover and separation from neighboring yards. I hope to give him a selection of height and textures to look at-
I am planning to start
Briza media - a pretty annual
Lagurus ovatus - Bunny Tails Grass'- another pretty annual
Luzula nivea (for me...)
Miscanthus sinensus purpurascens 'Flame'
Miscanthus 'Giganteus'(a whopper!)
Miscanthus sinensus 'adaga'
milica ciliata- Hairy melic grass
Molinia litoralis - Moor Grass
Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty Millet' counts as grass for me.... as well as 'Jester' Hybrid Millet and Setaria italica 'Lime Light'
Penesetium alopeciroides - Black Moudry
imperata cylindrica rubra - 'Rubra Red Baron' Japanese Blood Grass
I think I may have a few more too- but they have not made it to the master list yet....
Good luck in your search-

    Bookmark   February 24, 2007 at 10:52PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)


Small booklet available at nurseries with books like Bachmanns, and bookstores or the Minnesota State Horticultural Society office in Roseville:


Another good ornamental grass for MN booklet to look for (at same places) is by Erin Hynes - Cold Climate Ornamental Grasses, small, maybe 10x6" spiral bound, better Minnesota pictures. This one is better geared for the newbie grass grower.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 11:22AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

If you aren't in a big hurry you may want to visit Norenberg Gardens later in the summer. They have a nice selection of grasses and you could see what you like before purchasing. The book Ornamental Grasses for Cold Climates by Mary Hockenberry Meyer from the Hort Dept. at the U of M is another good book. Some of the most popular ones seem to be feather reed grass Calamagrostis, purple moorgrass Molinia, and the switchgrass varieties-Panicum. I also like the bluestems both big and little. Prairie dropseed is a shorter fine textured variety. Those are a few of my favorites. Just stay away from ribbon-grass unless you plant it inside a root barrier(5 gallon bucket with bottom cut out) It is very aggressive.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 4:45PM
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rivrats2(z 3 ND)

I grow Miscanthus Purpurascens (flame grass), Amur Silver Grass ( a miscanthus( invasive but most beautiful), Overdam, avalanche,feather reed grass (brachytricha) goreous!, Karl Forester, Hakonochloa, Feesy's Ribbon Grass, Blue Oat Grass. Had them for years . The Miscanthus hold their plumes throughout the winter(lovely in the winter landscape)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2007 at 12:17PM
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The booklet by Mary Meyer is excellent. The miscanthus that has the best for me is 'Blondo' - a very tall cultivar with golden flowers.

Fall reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha)is a great all around performer and even takes a bit of shade.

I also really like all the Molinia cultivars.

I was happy to see Baily's is carrying 2 new Miscanthus cultivars based on Mary Meyer's research at the Arboretum - Klein Fontaine (Little Fountain) and Rotsilber (RedSilver).


    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 9:05PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

I grow Klein Fontaine. Vigorous, and holds the seed heads in an upright manner, like fountains spraying upward. Very nice, and a different effect from other Miscanthus.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2007 at 8:20PM
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joyfulsnowflake(Zone 4)

I heard ornamental grasses can grow quickly from plugs. All I've seen in big garden centers are gallon size pots and they are expensive. Does anyone know where plugs are sold?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 11:16PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Check out Ambergate Gardens or Busse Gardens. Both are basically mail order. I've ordered from both and been happy with their stock.Check out their websites. Ambergate is located near Chaska and Busse near Big Lake.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 10:49PM
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Thanks to all of you. I got the Meyer book and it is, as promised, very helpful. I look forward to trying some of these out in my garden this year. GaryStPaul

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 11:54PM
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