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Tall ornamental grasses

Posted by inbirdlady z5 Northern IN (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 2, 06 at 8:13

I would like some suggestions for tall (at least 5 feet) clumping grasses that will grow well in zone 5. Thanks

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Tall ornamental grasses

  • Posted by donn_ 7a, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 2, 06 at 8:43

Andropogon gerardii - Big Bluestem
Miscanthus 'Giganteus' - Giant Chinese Silver Grass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Blutenwunder' - Blooming Wonder Maiden Grass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Goliath' - Giant Maiden Grass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' - Maiden Grass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberfeder' - Silver Feather Grass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' - Porcupine Grass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus' - Variegated Maiden Grass
Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus' - Zebra Grass
Panicum virgatum 'Cloud Nine' - Cloud Nine Switch Grass
Saccharum ravennae - Hardy Pampas Grass
Sorghastrum nutans 'Sioux Blue' - Blue Indian Grass
Sporobolus wrightii - Giant Sacaton Grass

RE: Tall ornamental grasses

  • Posted by jake z4b-5 NE (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 2, 06 at 22:58

I will agree w/ donn however what is your end goal for "tall" ornamental grasses ??

remember that any ornamental grass should be cut back in the spring then allowed to grow thoughout the growing season.

What this means is that there will be no "tall" grasses for 3-4 months, and that's on the short side. Are you willing to accept this no tall grass period ??

Just making sure you are aware of the characteristics of ornamental grass, tall or short, in general.


RE: Tall ornamental grasses

Gotta throw Miscanthus "Morning Light" in that category, even though it's SUPPOSED to top out at 4 feet. Mine is definately taller than that.

RE: Tall ornamental grasses

I am planning to replace some extremely overgrown shrubs at the front of our house. The door is in the center of the house and there is a window on either side. There is about a 10 foot area on both sides of the door that I have to work with. This is on the east side so will get a lot of morning sun.
What I am considering right now are vines on trellises on both sides of the door (have small porch). In front of the windows I am thinking about some sort of tall grasses and possibly butterfly bushes. I thought a clumping grass that grows fairly quickly would work nicely in this area. In front I will probably have some yuccas and flowers of some sort.
I realize the plants will take some time to grow, but I can deal with this. I've never used ornamental grasses before but really like the way they look and there are so many I would like suggestions on which would work best. I want something that is a tad different from what all the neighbors have too.

RE: Tall ornamental grasses

  • Posted by donn_ 7a, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 4, 06 at 11:50

I'm not sure a tall ornamental grass would work for you in this application. When Jake said they have to be "cut back" every year, he meant to the ground. That's generally done in late winter/early spring. Then it'll take the grass at least 3-4 months to grow back up. The same is usually true of Butterfly Bush. All through the spring and early summer, you won't have your foundation anchors.

I'm in the same boat. I have to replace most of the shrubs in my foundation beds. I'll be using grasses and Butterfly Bushes, but they'll be interspersed with evergreen anchor shrubs, so there will be year-round height in the beds.

RE: Tall ornamental grasses

I realize the grasses will need to be cut down late winter/early spring and it will take a while for them and butterfly bushes to regrow, but I still like the look of grasses and butterfly bushes.
I am also considering some sort of evergreens in this area but haven't really started to narrow down the varieties yet. Any suggestions?

RE: Tall ornamental grasses

  • Posted by jake z4b-5 NE (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 4, 06 at 12:53

Both of you are speaking of plant material that really intrigues my design senses, as for Buddleias being cut back you could plant B. alternifolia. This Buddleia does not need to be cut back annually.

We have (3) of them growing under our deck (deck sits 9-10 above grade) that are 3 yrs old and 6 tall. Very attractive and they do attract the butterflies. All toll we have approximately (15) Buddleia, 40 grasses and too many perennials to mention.

As for year round shrubbery I would suggest Buxus (Boxwood) or Ilex (Holly). I like both of these because of their "evergreen" leaves, their shapes and their colors.

Like any landscape design you have to pick a base plant then design around it. Any design that you feel is the correct arrangement of plants may not be viewed as a good design by those passing by but if you like it then the #@##%* with the travelers.


RE: Tall ornamental grasses

  • Posted by donn_ 7a, GSB, LI, NY (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 4, 06 at 13:03

I'd add Pieris to the list of evergreen shrubs to consider. I also like Hinoki False Cypress, especially Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Gracilis.'

RE: Tall ornamental grasses

Oh for sure plant some Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'.
Common Name: Feather reed grass
Description: cool season/semi-evergreen; clump forming
Foliage - green; medium; 150-220 cm (60-90")
Flowers - June-July; 200-250 cm (70-100")
Conditions: full sun; moist to wet fertile soil; tolerates a wide range of soil types, but thrives in clay soil
Perennial Plant of the Year - 2001

They look great grouped in 3's.

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