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Great Grasses for Tulsa Gardens

By Barry Fugatt

Tall Grasses - 6’ plus

Reed Grass

Giant Reed Grass

Giant Reed Grass (Arundo donax) 10’

Giant Reed Grass is a fast growing plant with wide corn-like foliage. The white variegated reed grass is particularly showy. It produces beautiful plumes above its dramatic foliage in September. Use it as a background, specimen, or screening plant for large gardens.


PampasGrass

Pampas Grass

Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana) 6’ to 10’

Its late summer plumes may be the most beautiful of all the grasses. The smaller dwarf form (5 to 6’ tall) is typically better suited to most urban gardens. Listed as a zone 7 plant, but it normally survives our zone 6B winters.


Plume Grass

Plume Grass

Plume Grass (Erianthus ravennae) 10’ plus

Gardeners looking for great size and eye catching power need look no further than Ravenna / Plume grass. Its plumes are not as showy as those of Pampas grass. Its more winter hardy, however, and it makes a dramatic design statement when it lifts fluffy white plumes 10 to 12 ‘ into the air.


Maiden Grass

Maiden Grass - ‘Gracillimus’

Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis – ‘Gracillimus’) 7’ plus

One of the best known maiden grasses. Has excellent rounded form, very nice texture and it produces lots of late summer copper colored plumes that mature to a nice silver color and persist into late winter.


Maiden Grass

Maiden Grass - ‘Morning Light’

Maiden Grass (M. s ‘Morning Light’) 6’ plus

Morning Light produces masses of thick, lime green foliage that looks great in the company of dark green woody plants. It makes an excellent specimen and screening plant. It blooms very late if at all.


Maiden Grass

Maiden Grass - ‘Silberfeder’

Maiden Grass (M. s ‘Silberfeder’) 7’ plus

Another of the great old maiden grasses. It’s a faithful late summer bloomer and it’s an ideal plant for specimen or screening use.


Maiden Grass

Maiden Grass - ‘Cabaret’

Maiden Grass (M. s ‘Cabaret’) 6’

This variegated grass may be the most showy of all the maiden grasses. Inch wide ribbon-like foliage has a creamy white center band with dark green borders.


Medium Grasses 4’ to 6’

Feather Reed Grass

Feather Reed Grass

Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’) 4’ plus

This tidy, upright grass has lots of early flowers (May). It’s a cool season grass with a pleasant vertical character. Perennial Plant of the Year for 2000.


Northern Sea Oats

Northern Sea Oats

Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) 4’

Northern Sea Oats has a loose informal shape that looks great in lots of landscape applications. Tolerates wet sites and partial shade. One of the best grasses for pot culture. Seed heads very attractive in late fall and winter. Self seed, blooms in early summer


Maiden Grass

Maiden Grass 'Adagio'

Maiden Grass (M. s ‘Adagio’) 4 ‘

Adagio possibly is the most versatile and hardy of the maiden grasses. It’s modest size, graceful form and abundant flowers contribute to it’s great look in the garden. It is a perfect mid-size grass for screening patios, decks, and pools. It’s also a fine specimen plant.


Fountain Grass

Fountain Grass

Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) 4’

Fountain Grass is an indispensible garden plant. This grass is a great companion for most flowering perennials and annuals. Blooms in mid-summer and looks good well into winter. Excellent choice for low screens, sweeps, and specimen use.


Purple Fountain Grass

Purple Fountain Grass

Purple Fountain Grass (P. setaceum ‘Atropurpurea’) 4’

This dark foliage grass is used as an annual in this zone (6B). It’s gorgeous purple foliage and long, soft, foxtail-like flowers are striking throughout the summer and early fall. Excellent plant for mass planting. It also is very attractive in containers


Small Grasses 1’ to 3’

Dwarf Fountain Grass

Dwarf Fountain Grass ‘National Arboretum’

Dwarf Fountain Grass (P. a ‘National Arboretum’) 3’

National Arboretum is one of the newer fountain grasses. It’s a tough, drought tolerant and beautiful variety well adapted for mass plantings and edging. Has very fine foliage and sets lots of attractive flowers in mid-summer.


Dwarf Fountain Grass

Dwarf Fountain Grass ‘Hamelin’

Dwarf Fountain Grass (P. a ‘Hamelin’) 2’ to 3’

Hamelin Fountain Grass forms a compact tight mound of fine textured foliage with lots of attractive small flowers. Flowers appear in mid to late summer. Looks good well into winter. Ideal dwarf grass for edging beds and for mass planting.


Mexican Feather Grass - Spring

Mexican Feather Grass - Spring

Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) 2’ to 3’

Mexican Feather Grass is one of the most beautiful of all grasses. It’s very well adapted to our Oklahoma climate, tolerating lengthy droughts without a problem. Foliage and flowers are extremely soft and sway and move with the slightest breeze. It is a cool season grass that blooms in May and then turns an attractive tan by mid-summer. One of the finest grasses for perennial borders and for edging walks, water features, and rock gardens.

Mexican Feather Grass - Summer

Mexican Feather Grass - Summer


Japanese Blood Grass

Japanese Blood Grass

Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Barron’) 18”

One of the most colorful of all foliage grasses. Very good for ground cover and container use. Foliage is beautifully tipped in red. Very lovely in early morning and late afternoon sunlight. Spreads slowly in the garden but not invasive.


Hakone Grass

Hakone Grass needs shade

Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Alboaurea’) 2’

Hakone Grass is a challenge to grow but it is well worth the effort. Rich yellow and green striped foliage is spectacular. This cool season grass needs afternoon shade or dapple light growing conditions. Once planted it does not like to be moved or divided. First year growth doesn’t look like much, but once established during it’s second and subsequent years, it looks fantastic.


Hakone Grass

Hakone Grass foliage


Dwarf Fountain Grass

Dwarf Fountain Grass - ‘Little Bunny’

Dwarf Fountain Grass (P. a ‘Little Bunny’) 1’

Little Bunny is the smallest of the fountain grasses. It has a tight fine textured form with very fine foliage. It flowers well in mid-summer. Ideal uses include edging, ground cover, and rock gardens


Dwarf Fountain Grass

Blue Fescue

Blue Fescue (Festuca ovina ‘Elijah Blue’) 1’

This dwarf grass produces exceptionally blue foliage. It is an ideal plant for edging, ground cover, and rock garden use. It needs afternoon shade and regular watering during the hot summer months.

See also: Ornamental Grasses - Brief History and Overview