The best qualities of ornamental grasses
- Make impactful statements in any landscape
- Can help stabilize soil
- Excellent addition to flower arrangements
- Huge variety of textures and sizes
Planting Ornamental Grass Seeds in Your Garden
A well-designed garden evokes an emotional response. When choosing what to plant, we make decisions based on our weather, ease of planting, or on our emotional satisfaction that can be achieved by planting favorite colors or scents. While all of this is important and relevant when shaping our gardens, we must also consider several design aspects that will improve and enhance the look of our outdoor space. Lines, texture, form, scale, and pattern all combine to give gardens an interest that is more than just a sum of its parts. Ornamental grasses are the perfect design element for these considerations.
Gardeners who recognize a need for a variety of heights, shapes and textures are on their way to creating a truly special place. Introducing these contrasting and complementary elements elevates a garden from simply good, to great. Ornamental grasses, with their varying heights and textures, offer at once elegant and at other times, riotous additions. Where soft movement is needed, consider planting Mexican Feather Grass. Where more angular texture is sought, add in Foxtail Millet. When a boundary needs to be set or a large statement piece should be highlighted, Pampas Grass may fit the bill. In all three of these occasions, thoughtfully considering what your garden needs can disrupt the monotony of a homogenous design.
Features of Ornamental Grass Seeds
Most ornamental grasses are warm-season selections, best planted in the spring. No matter the variety, all ornamental grasses prefer full sun and will not need a lot of watering once it is established. In fact, they do best in drier climates.
Ornamental grasses offer a low-maintenance addition to your garden. Cutting back old foliage, or dividing their clumps is your choice, but eventually will be needed for the betterment of the plant. For the most part, once established, ornamental grasses do not give the average gardener much to worry about, as they are not susceptible to disease. If allowed to grow into the winter, grasses offer a safe haven and food source for birds, animals, and insects. They can become part of your garden’s ecosystem by providing food and a natural shelter to our winter friends.
Ornamental Grass Care and Maintenance
We turn to planting ornamental grasses to recreate the curves and meanders of nature’s hand. Ornamental grasses provide four seasons of interest and are widely adaptable to many conditions. Be sure to always plant them in a full sun location in well-draining soil.
While landscaping, consider when to cut back your ornamental grass plantings. Letting it grow tall will enable seed heads to develop, which you may or may not want as part of your garden design, with its intended consequence of reproduction. For example, Mexican Feather Grass can double in size if left unattended. Cutting it back will trim off these seedheads and rejuvenate the plant, much like removing flowers by deadheading. Chopping off ⅓ to ⅔ of the uppermost portion of Mexican Feather Grass will give it an angular, more modern look. On the other hand, Foxtail Millet is grown precisely for the seedheads, which grow beautifully greenish-tan, nutty and coarse. You may want to leave this addition in your garden, or harvest to decorate inside your home. These seedheads stand up well in vases, and have become a favorite of floral designers.
Pampas Grass grows tall plumes atop sharp, long blades. These plumes can readily be dried, arranged and used to decorate inside and outside the home. If you like the look of the plumes on the plant, the best time to cut these back will be in late winter. Waiting until this time allows you to enjoy the fluffy, cloud-like plumes in your landscape. When it is time to cut back, it is best to chop ⅔ off the top.
For more information about planting and growing ornamental grass seeds, see the Ornamental Grass Seed Planting Guide.