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PERENNIAL GRASSES

All Photos are courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.

One of the best landscaping plants for Iowa.

Perennial Grasses provide heights from 8" to 8' and takes all conditions.  The full plumes or seed heads often last through the harsh winters providing interest and movement to the bare landscape.  Once established, grasses require little care.

There are two main seasons for grasses: Cool season and Warm season.  Cool season grasses are related to our common lawn grasses and grow in the late spring and early summer. All Calamagrotis are cool season grasses.

All other grasses are Warm season grasses and are related to Iowa prairie grasses.  Some do not emerge until June and bloom late summer and into the fall.

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CALAMAGROTIS
(Reed Grass)

Acutiflora Overdam
Calamagrotis Feather Reed Grass: 2-3'.  Sun/Light Shade.  White-edged erect leaves in compact clumps, with pink plumes in early summer.   Zones 5-9.

Calamagrotis Karl Forester
Zones 4-8.  5'.  Cool season, clumping grass.  Compact and upright.  Wheat-like seed heads last all season.

Calamagrotis El Dorado
Variagated form with a wide yellow stripe down the center.  4-5'.

Korean Calamagrotis Feather Reed Grass
Zones 4-9.   4'.  Warm season grass that blooms later in the summer.  Purplish red, fluffy plumes turn green/tan. Shade tolerant.


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MISCANTHUS

Miscanthus Autumn Anthem
Feathery, cream plumes form on 5.5" upright clumps.  Narrow white mid-rib.   Zone 5.

Miscanthus Autumn Light
3-4'.  Good yellow fall color.   Very hardy and vigorous.  Zones 4-9.

Miscanthus Dixieland
4-5' green and white foliage has a compact growth with silky, pink plumes.  Also works well in containers.   Zones 5.

Miscanthus Encore
Zones 5-9.  6'.  Perfect in northern climates.  Earlier bloomer with a secondary flush of coppery purple plumes.  Flowers turn to a creamy tan with a tall clump of dark green leaves with a white midrib.

Miscanthus Giganteus
Zones 4-9.  10'.  Upright clumps of wide green leaves.  Light pink plumes turn silver.

Miscanthus Gracillimus
(Maiden Grass)
6-8'.  Slender leaves; graceful arching habit.   The standard against which all others are measured.  Zones 6-9.

Miscanthus Huron Sunrise
Profuse, full burgundy plumes sit atop white ribbed green leaves.  5-6'.  Zone 4.

Miscanthus Little Zebra
3-4'.   Reliable reddish blooms, especially for the north.  Green leaves have gold bands and form a rounded shape.

Miscanthus Morning Light
4-5'.  Elegant, narrow, fine, silvery green leaves appear to glow when backlit.  Arching clump topped with bronze red plumes.

Miscanthus Oktoberfest
Spiky textured foliage grows upright with pinkish copper blooms.  4-6'.

Miscanthus Oligostachyus 'Purpurascens
4-5'.  Reddish hue develops through summer; entire plant turns red in fall.   Zones 5-9.

Miscanthus Strictus Porcupine Grass
4-6'.   Gold bands on green foliage, upright with pinkish copper blooms.

Miscanthus Sarabande
5-6'.  Zone 4.  Very narrow foliage gets gold and copper colored seed heads in August.

Miscanthus Silberfeder
(Silver Reed Grass)
6-7'.  Zone 4.  Large, feathery seed heads rise high above graceful arching mounds of deep green blades with silver midribs.  One of the most cold hardy of the species.

Miscanthus Zebrinus
8'.  Zone 5.  Gold horizontal bars on green leaves have an arching habit and pinkish copper blooms in September.


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ORNAMENTAL

Acorus Oborozuki
10-12".  Zone 4.  Deer Resistant.  Sweet smelling, green and gold variegated foilage is great as a groundcover.  Not a true grass.  Also good in a container.

Acorus
SweetFlag.  
Variegatus (White-striped Japanese Sweet Flag): 6-12".  Green & white striped leaves.  Needs a moist location.  Zones 4-11.  Sun to shade.

Carex Evergold
Zones 5-9.  1'.  This versatile sedge for the shade works as a spiller in containers or landscapes.  Forms a clump of narrow, creamy yellow leave with dark green edges.
Spreads by rhizomes.  Easy to grow.

Gramineus Variegatus
(Dwarf Sweet Flag).  
6-12".  Blades are a good accent in wet or boggy areas.  Full sun to partial shade.

Andropogon Indian Warrior
Zone 3.  5-6'.  Long lived bluestem turns from green to red then smoky purple mid-summer.  Deep purple flowers with red-orange pollen.

Andropogon Rain Dance
18-20".  Stem; 4-5' in flower.  Zone 3.  Red tip foliage on deeper green that turns maroon in the fall.  Red stems.

JUNCUS Effuses Spiralis
Corkscrew Rush
Soft densely tufted dark green foliage with strong spirals to 1 foot.  Likes moist conditions and can withstand bog areas or standing water up to 5 inches deep.  Zone 4.

Glauca 'Elijah Blue
8".  Full sun, grows to about 12 inches tall with a spread of 18 inches.  Likes full sun and well drained soil.  The best and bluest of the blue fescues.  Zones 4-8

Hakone Aureola
The graceful form and beautiful variegation of this grass make it one of the most beloved plants of the shade garden.  Spectacular bright yellow and green leaves cascade gracefully all in the same direction.  Hakone Grass makes a superb specimen plant or choice selection for mass planting.  It is also ideal in combination planters.  Best growth occurs in partial to full shade in moist well drained soils rich in organic matter.  Hakonechloa slowly forms a clump ultimately 8 to 12 inches tall and up to 3 feet wide over time.  Hardy in Zones 5 to 9.

Hakone All Gold
9-14".  Brilliant solid gold foliage that glows in the shade.  More uptight habit and good vigor. Spreads slowly by rhizomes but not invasive.  Zone 5.

Juncus Big Twister
18-24".  Zone 5.  Deep green cylindrical foliage twirls in bold, upright spirals.


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OTHER GRASSES

Panicum Heavy Metal
(Sun) .  To 4'.  Stiff, upright columns of metallic blue foliage.  A Longwood Gardens selection.  Zones 4-9.

Panicum Hot Rod
36-40".  Zone 4.  Green leaves emerge and quickly turn to rich maroon.

Panicum Prairie Fire
Blue-green foliage turns wine red by early summer.  Rosy panicles.  4-5'.  Zone 4.

Panicum Ruby Ribbon
4'.  Zone 4.  Blue-green leaves turn to wine-red upright clumps, darkening through the season.  Ornamental seed heads.

Panicum 'Shenandoah
36" summer.  This bright red panicum, introduced by Dr. Hans Simon of Germany, is bound to be very popular.  Color of foliage appears in June.  Red flowers appear in summer.  One of the shortest varieties.

Pennisetum Hameln
This dwarf fountain Grass is more compact at 2-3'.  Finely textured green leaves have soft greenish-cream panicles.  Zone 5.

Pennisetum Piglet
18"  Zone 5.  Easy to grow.  Upright habit.  Creamy fluffy seedheads on light green foliage.

Pennisetum Red Head
Zone 5-9.  4-5'.  Early form fountain grass with smoky purple plumes 3" wide and 9" long.  Turns gold in fall.

Prairie Winds Desert Plain
Upright vase-shaped clump 3-4' tall with showy 5" bottlebrush smoky purple plumes.  Zone 5.

SchiZone achyrium Blue Heaven
Non-flopping habit with brighter steel blue foliage and purple highlights that turn pink to red in the fall.  Glossy purple panicles.  42-54".  Zone 3.

SchiZone achyrium Blue Paradise
Zone 3-9.  42-54".  This little bluestem has a non-flopping habit and steel blue foliage with purple highlights.  Glossy purple panicles.

SchiZone achyrium Smoke Signal
3-4'.  This Little Bluestem takes on scarlet red tones in late summer and gets deeper in the fall contrasting with tiny, tan seed heads.  Does not flop.  Zone 3.

SchiZone achyrium Twilight Zone one
A standout with iridescent silvery mauve cast beginning mid-summer.  Gets more purple in the fall.  Upright and narrow clump that doesn't flop.  4-4.5'.  Zone 3

Sporobulus Heterolepis
2-3'.  This prairie dropseed has a soft, fountain-like look.  Threadlike, green leaves turn golden orange in fall.  Fragrant, pinkish brown flowers appear atop tall, arching stems.  Drought tolerant.  Zone 3.

Web site last updated
January 21, 2018