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16 Types Of Ornamental Grasses (With Pictures)

foxtail barley

If you are a gardening lover and you enjoy maintaining and constantly improving your garden with beautiful plants and herbs, we’ve created a list of beautiful ornamental grasses for your garden. These plants will make your garden more unique and elegant than ever. These beautiful plants are low-maintenance, which means that you will have a spectacular collection of color and texture growing in your garden with minimum effort.

This article has all the basic information you will need to know before planting any of these grasses. It contains many different ornamental grass species, so you can choose which one will fit your garden best and be a centerpiece in your home landscape.

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The 16 Types Of Ornamental Grasses

1. Zebra Grass

Zebra grass
Photo Credit: tamu1500, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Miscanthus Sinensis
Plant type: Ornamental grass
Native to: Japan
Height: Up to 6 feet

Zebra Grass is one of the favorite ornamental grasses amongst garden lovers. This plant grows fast, and depending on the area where you live, it can even become invasive. Zebra Grass, while it is young, needs regular watering, but once the plant matures, it can become drought-resistant, so no excessive watering is necessary.

It has a specific appearance that makes it easily recognizable. The green leaves have golden horizontal stripes. At the beginning of the fall, there will be more creamy golden stripes appearing on the leaf, and by the end of the fall, most of the leaf’s surface will be colored beige.

2. Feather Reed Grass or Karl Foerster

Feather Reed Grass or karl foester
Photo Credit: Sonja-Kalee, Pixabay
Scientific name: Calamagrostis x acutiflora
Plant type: Perennial
Native to: Europe, Asia
Height: On average, between 3 and 5 feet

This ornamental grass grows up to 3 feet high and sometimes even up to 5 feet high. It grows in clumps of green leaves that will grow purple flowers during summer. Unlike some other ornamental grasses, the Feather Reed Grass will grow upright and stay elevated all year round. At the end of winter, it is best to cut the grass to the ground and prepare it for a new and healthy growing season. This plant doesn’t require much maintenance, and it is best to water it only when the soil dries up.

3. Pampas Grass

pampas grass
Photo Credit: JACLOU-DL, Pixabay
Scientific name: Cortaderia selloana
Plant type: Perennial
Native to: South America
Height: Up to 10 feet

Pampas Grass is a beautiful ornamental grass and one of the favorites among landscapers. When planting Pampas, choose a spot where it can grow freely and have plenty of room to spread. It is best if you plant the seeds about 6 feet apart. It grows pretty fast and tall when planted in full and direct sunlight and can even be invasive, as it can grow up to 10 feet high.

Other than needing full sun, it is pretty easy to maintain and falls under the category of drought-resistant plants. It grows stunning feathery-like flowers that come in a variety of colors. The most common shade of the flower is a milky brown white, which makes this plant popular even in interior design.

4. Japanese Forest Grass

Japanese forest grass
Image Credit: Flower_Garden, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’
Plant type: Perennial
Native to: Central Japan
Height: Up to 18 inches

Japanese Forest Grass is a beautiful and unique varicolored plant. It grows as a luscious green-yellow shrub in a carpet-like form, filled with different color patterns. This ornamental grass differs from other grasses because it thrives in shady areas rather than in direct sunlight. It requires very low maintenance and moist but well-drained soil to grow healthy. It is best to plant this ornamental grass in spring, as it can grow up to 18 inches high and 24 inches wide.

5. Blue Fescue

Blue Fescue
Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay
Scientific name: Festuca glauca
Plant type: Perennial grass
Native to: Europe, southern France
Height: 9 to 12 inches

The Blue Fescue, commonly known as Festuca glauca ”Elijah Blue”, is a dwarf ornamental grass. It grows in the form of a dense shrub with narrow, needle-like leaves that create a bright silver-blue carpet in your garden. Beautiful orange flowers will grow upright from the center of the shrubs during summer. This plant requires minimum maintenance, as it is yet another drought-resistant ornamental grass. It thrives with minimal watering, in poor and well-drained soil, and full sunlight.

6. Shenandoah Switchgrass

Blooming Shenandoah switch grass
Image Credit: Traveller70, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Panicum virgatum
Plant type: Perennial, Ornamental Grasses, and Sedges
Native to: North America
Height: 3 to 7 feet

The Shenandoah Switchgrass is a warm-season type of ornamental grass that stays sturdy and strong even through winters. It forms in dense clumps of green leaves that will appear with red, purple, or burgundy shades in the early fall. During summer, this plant will bloom upright with reddish-pink flowers. During winter, both the flowers and the leaves will turn beige but will stay healthy throughout the entire winter.

This ornamental grass prefers full and direct sunlight, with moist clay-like or sand-like soil. When planting it in a shady area, it may not grow as fast as usual, and the leaves may flop due to lack of sunlight.

7. Blue Oat Grass

Blue Oat Grass
Image Credit: Kathryn Roach, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Helictotrichon sempervirens
Plant type: Perennial
Native to: Europe
Height: 2 to 3 feet

Blue Oat Grass is a highly praised ornamental grass among garden lovers. It grows in fountain-like clumps of narrow blade-like leaves that arch gracefully towards the ground. The leaves are colored in a beautiful silvery shade of blue. Due to its color and shape Blue Oat Grass is easily mistaken for Blue Fescue, but it is much taller and wider. It requires very little maintenance, and it is semi-evergreen. This plant is excellent for its drought-tolerant features and is also salt resistant.

8. Foxtail Barley

foxtail barley
Image Credit: MabelAmber, Pixabay
Scientific name: Hordeum jubatum
Plant type: Perennial, short-lived
Native to: North America
Height: About 1 to 2 feet

Foxtail Barley got its unique name from its distinctive red tufted flowers that resemble the tail of a red fox. It looks stunning as a part of the garden design. This short-lived ornamental grass is easy to grow because it requires minimum maintenance. It thrives in full sun, and even though it mainly grows in moist places, it is drought-resistant. Be careful when planting because this ornamental grass can self-sow, which means that it is challenging to eradicate it once it is planted. The Foxtail Barley is another invasive ornamental grass on the list.

9. Purple Fountain Grass

Purple Fountain Grass
Image Credit: ignartonosbg, Pixabay
Scientific name: Pennisetum setaceum
Plant type: Perennial
Native to: Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East
Height: 3 to 5 feet

Pennisetum setaceum is a popular ornamental grass that grows in shrubs of gracefully arched leaves. From the center of the foliage in the summer, pinkish feathery flowers will grow upright. As the flowers mature and dry, their color will slowly turn to tan or beige. This ornamental grass requires very little maintenance, and its drought-resistant, tolerant of high temperatures, humidity, and wind, and safe from pests and diseases. If it is adequately maintained, it can stay evergreen.

10. Egyptian Papyrus

Egyptian papyrus plant
Image Credit: SUJITRA CHAOWDEE, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Cyperus papyrus
Plant type: Aquatic Plant, Perennial
Native to: Central Africa
Height: Depending on the habitat, 6 to 16 feet

Papyrus is an ornamental grass that is native to central Africa. It is famous for its origin because Egyptians used this plant to make paper. This unique plant will give any garden an exotic and tropical look. During summer, Papyrus will grow stunning clumps of flowers shaped like fireworks, producing brown fruits that resemble nuts. In its native habitat, this plant will thrive up to 16 feet high, but it will grow up to 6 feet tall in domestic conditions.

11. Golden Oats Plant

Golden Oats plant
Image Credit: Peter Turner Photography, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Stipa Gigantea
Plant type: Perennial, Evergreen
Native to: Spain
Height: Up to 7 feet

The Golden Oats Plant is an impressive and stunning type of ornamental grass. The Stipa Gigantea will grow dense foliage from which seed heads will emerge in the early summer. Their high flower spikes can rise to even 4 feet above the foliage. This ornamental grass will last throughout the year, always staying elevated and healthy, making it evergreen. It is a low-maintenance plant that thrives in full sun, with moderately moist and fertile, well-drained soil.

12. Mexican Feather Grass

Mexican Feather Grass
Image Credit: Kathryn Roach, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Nassella tenuissima
Plant type: Perennial
Native to: North America
Height: 12 to 24 inches

Mexican Feather Grass is among the favorites of ornamental grasses and is also frequently used in landscape design. It is famous for its gentle, delicate, needle-like leaves that will sway in the wind elegantly. This ornamental grass thrives in direct sunlight and well-drained soil with the right amount of water provided. When all the right conditions are met, this plant tends to become invasive, but it can be a beautiful addition if kept in managed gardens and well-maintained landscapes.

13. Northwind Switchgrass

golden northwind switchgrass
Image Credit: Molly Shannon, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Panicum virgatum
Plant type: Perennial Grass
Native to: North America
Height: Up to 6 feet

The Northwind Switchgrass is a beautiful perennial ornamental grass with fine-textured foliage. It has blue, green leaves that, in the late summer, bloom beautiful golden flower spikelets. Both the leaves and the flowers will turn a light beige color in fall, and they will stay this way throughout the entire year. It is a low-maintenance plant that typically grows in narrow clumps. It is a very versatile grass that makes it fit into every landscape design.

14. Ornamental Onion

ornamental onion close up
Image Credit: Ralphs_Fotos, Pixabay
Scientific name: Allium giganteum
Plant type: Perennial
Native to: Central and southwestern Asia
Height: Between 1 and 4 feet

The cheerful, spherical flowers of the Ornamental Allium will liven up any garden and give it charm and character. The bulb will bloom in the spring or early summer, growing very quickly. This ornamental grass will require full and direct sunlight to thrive and grow healthy. Their watering habits aren’t as frequent as other plants, and they are very low-maintenance. While this specimen of ornamental onion is not edible, its leaves will give an onion smell when crushed.

15. Quaking Grass

quaking grass
Image Credit: wal_172619, Pixabay
Scientific name: Briza media
Plant type: Perennial, Evergreen
Native to: Europe and Asia
Height: 2 to 3 feet

This entertaining ornamental grass is an absolute delight to grow in your garden. Its puffy spikelets will rattle in the wind, which is where the name Quaking Grass comes from. Its tiny and greenish flowers resemble oats, and in the foliage of deep green leaves, they sometimes look like small pearls, which is why it is also known as Pearl Grass. This ornamental grass will be a great addition if you want to add height to your landscape. It is effortless to grow, as it requires very little care, and you can plant it at any time during the year.

16. Red Baron Grass

Red Baron grass
Image Credit: Tatiana Alex, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Imperata cylindrica
Plant type: Perennial
Native to: Southeast Asia
Height: Between 1 and 2 feet

This fascinating ornamental grass, called Red Baron, is a spectacular species to grow in your garden. Its foliage will grow in narrow bright green leaves with cranberry-red tops. Its fiery red leaves will stand out in your landscape. It requires zero maintenance and will be a great addition to your garden with warm reddish tones. Although it may not grow as tall as other ornamental grasses, this species does grow fast and may even become invasive in your garden.

Related Read: 12 Types of Grass & Their Benefits (With Pictures)

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If you love ornamental grasses, the above list will hopefully help you decide which one is perfect for you to plant in your garden. These species are mesmerizing and will make a stunning addition to any landscape. They will take the spotlight with their luscious leaves and gentle flowers, and they can add height or density to your collection of plants.

You can’t make a wrong choice when it comes to planting ornamental grass in your garden because they usually require very little maintenance and will grow freely on their own. With their wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, they will give your garden elegance and character.

Featured Image Credit: ELG21, Pixabay


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