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Acorus calamus ‘Variegatus’


         Iris-like leaves striped with white.  Use for waterside.  Cobb-like flower not ornamental.  36 inches tall.  Sun to part shade.


Alopecurus pratensis ‘Aureovariegatus’

Yellow Foxtail Grass


         Spreading but not invasive.  Bright gold-striped leaves.  Tight cylindrical panicles in June.  May look “tired” by late summer, cut back for new growth.  Well drained fertile soil, full sun.


Andropogon gerardii

Big Bluestem


         Native.  Heads to 6 ft. late summer.  Green foliage.  Plant has red-orange fall color.  Full sun, well drained soil, very easy.  Clump-forming.  Reseeds.  Tolerates clay.


Briza media

Quaking Grass


         Many small, flat, drooping seed pods in June on 2-3 ft. plants.  Dry site and infertile soil is best.  Useful as cut or dried flower.  Forms a loose clump.  Sun.


Calamagrostis acutifolia ‘Stricta’

Stiff Feather Reed Grass


         5-7 ft. tall, stiffly upright form with red-bronze heads mid-summer turning buff into fall.  Good winter effect.  Full to part sun, wet or dry soil.


Calamagrostis arundinacea ‘Avalanche’

Feather Reed Grass


         Center-variegated leaf, improvement over ‘Overdam’.


Calamagrostis arundinacea ‘Carl Forester’

Feather Reed Grass


         Cool-season, clump-forming, green foliage.  Heads form in June, bloom, then fold tight, dry to wheat color, hold into winter.  Very vertical effect to 5 ft.  Full to part sun, wet or dry soil.


Calamagrostis arundinacea ‘Overdam’


         Similar to ‘Carl Forester’, only 4 ft. tall, leaves have variegated white stripes.


Calamagrostis brachytricha

Reed Grass


         2-3 ft. tall.  Dark, fox-tail blooms in early September.  Sun to part shade, very tolerant.


Carex conica ‘Marginata’

         Miniature Japanese variegated sedge.  Moist soil, up to 12 in. tall.


Carex conica ‘Variegata’

Miniature Variegated Sedge


         Up to 12 in.  Tufted, variegated leaves.  Moist soil, full to part sun.


Carex digitata

Fingered Sedge


         Similar to Mountain Sedge with wider leaf blades.  Tolerates dry soil.


Carex divulsa ‘Kaga-nishiki’

Gold Fountains


         15 inch clump-forming sedge with slender leaves with gold border.


Carex elata ‘Bowles Golden’

Golden Variegated Sedge


         2-3 ft., golden leaves.  Moist to wet soil.  Sun to part sun.


Carex glauca

Blue Sedge


         Tufted silvery grass 6 in. tall, invasive.  Sun to shade.  Moist soil.


Carex montana

Mountain Sedge


         10 in. tufted.  Sulfur-yellow flowers.  Full to part sun.  Moist, well-drained soil.


Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’


         8-10 in. tall.  Medium green, strap-like, cascading foliage with a cream to white edge.  Marginal.  Vigorous grower.


Carex muskingumensis

Palm Sedge


         Sparse but elegant sedge with some height.  Good to naturalize in moist, shady sites.


Carex muskingumensis ‘Oehme’

Golden Variegated Palm Sedge


         Golden variegated leaves.  Disheveled look.  Good to naturalize in moist, shady sites.


Carex ornitopoda ‘Variegata’

Birds Foot Sedge


         Floppy, even flat clump of thin, striped leaves.  Very white.  Nice rock garden grass.  Not for very wet soil.


Carex plantaginea


         Broad, shiny green leaf blades.  Clump-forming.  Useful as a ground cover.  Moist soil.


Carex siderosticha ‘Island Brocade’


         Low ground cover with wide, yellow striped leaves.  Good for moist areas.


Carex siderosticha ‘Variegata’


         Wide leaves with bold white variegation.  Very hardy.  Good ground-cover for moist, shady area.  Spreading clump.


Carex stricta ‘Variegata’


         Rapid growing, about 12 in. tall.  Full sun to part shade!  Light green with white stripe to leaf.


Carex sylvatica ‘Trimburg’

Forest Sedge


         Small, wiry, green clump.  4 in. tall.  Takes a moist soil and some shade.


Carex x ‘Silver Sceptre’


         Thick silvery clumps about 12 inches tall, narrow white margins on leaves.  Shade.  Spreads.


Carex x ‘The Beatles’

Mop-Head Sedge


         Small, green accent plant for shade and moist site.  4 in. tall.


Chasmanthium latifolium

Northern Sea Oats


         30 in., upright with horizontal green leaves; bamboo-like.  Flat, dangling, dime-sized heads form in July, persist into winter.  Use as dried.  Clump forming.  Moist well-drained soil.  Full to part sun.


Deschampsia caespitosa ‘Goldtau’


         Short variety, only 8 inches tall, with airy gold plumes above dark green foliage.  Clump-forming, cool-season grass—blooms in June.  Slender, green arching leaves.  Sun to part shade, in moist to moderately dry soil.


Equisetum robustum

Giant Horse Tail


         Hollow green tubes, bamboo effect.  Grows 3-6 ft. tall.  Invasive, water or moist site.  Takes some shade.


Festuca glauca

Blue Fescue


         Tufted, silvery, thin-leaved, very spiky, 10 in. tall.  Airy, broom-like head mid-summer (but not reliably).  Full sun, dry soil.


Festuca glauca ‘Elijah’s Blue’


         Very pale silver.  (See above.)


Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

Golden Hakon Grass


         1-2 ft. tall, fountain shaped, golden variegated leaves.  Heads inconsequential.  Non-invasive.  Tom’s favorite!


Helictotrichon sempervivens

Blue Oat Grass


         Tufted grass to 2 ft. tall.  Spikey silver leaves.  Brome-like heads to 3ft. tall but doesn’t always head.  Well-drained soil, full sun.


Helictotrichon sempervirens ‘Sapphire’

Blue Oat Grass


         More steely blue than the species.  See above.


Hierochloe odorata

Sweet Grass


         12-18 in. tall.  Fragrant, spreading.  Often braided or burned like incense.


Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’

Japanese Blood Grass


         Slow-spreading grass to 16 in. tall.  Very red leaves as summer progresses.  Full to part sun.  Moist well-drained soil.  Marginally hardy.


Luzula nivea

Snowy Wood Rush


Grass-like perennial with clusters of white flowers atop greenery.  Requires moist soil and part to deep shade.  12 in. tall.  Soil wet or dry.


Lymus arenarius glaucus ‘Blue Dune’


Steely blue, wide-bladed leaves.  1-2 ft.  A larger, showier, fuller variety.  Spreads.  Well-drained soil, not heavy.  Full sun.


Miscanthus giganteus

Giant Miscanthus


         Warm season, to 12 ft. tall.  Wide green leaves, fountain habit, very clean.  Flower heads late, may be arrested by early frost.  Non-invasive.  Dry to wet soils.  Full sun.


Miscanthus oligostachyus

Small Japanese Silver Grass


         3-4 ft. selection with silver heads in August.  Non-invasive, short Miscanthus.


Miscanthus sacchariflorus

Silver Banner Grass


         Only miscanthus that is invasive.  Warm season grass grows to 7 ft., forms silvery pampass heads late summer persisting into winter.  Wide, green leaves mature to wheat color for winter.  Dry to wet soil, full sun.  Rampant!


Miscanthus sinensis

Eulalia Grass


         Non-invasive, warm-season grasses.  Nice clean fountain habit.  Called Hardy Pampass Grass because Cortaderias are not hardy here.  Emerge from ground early June, produce fluffy pampass heads August and later that are attractive through winter.  Very useful, beginners start here.  Easy to grow, wet to dry, full sun. 

         Represented by the following cultivars:


M. s. ‘Bitsy Ben’


         Early-blooming, shorter and hardy.  About 5 ft. tall, good mass of bloom.  Nice fall color in leaves and stems.


M. s. ‘Blondo’


         7 ft. tall.  Wide green leaves.  Very numerous blooms turn creamy-white Aug.-Sept.  One of the best.


M. s. ‘Graziella’


         5-6 ft. tall.  Wiry green leaves.  Aug. bloom, large white heads.


M. s. ‘Huron Sunrise’


         Early-blooming, hardy and very full of bloom.  Heads begin as full burgundy.  5-6 ft. height.


M. s. ‘Juli’


         6-7 ft. tall.  Red seed heads in August.


M. s. ‘Malepartus’


         6-7 ft. tall.  Green leaf.  Dark pink flowers in August.  Good red-orange fall color.


M. s. ‘Red Feather’ (‘Roterpheil’)


         5-6 ft.  Red-bronze heads, red fall leaf color.


M. s. ‘Puenktchen’


         4-5 ft. tall.  Wide leaves with gold-banded variegation.  Flowers late, cream colored.  Short version of ‘Strictus.’


M. s. ‘Purpurascens’

Flame Grass


         Short 4-5 ft. tall.  Wide, green leaf.  Blooms early August.  Turns reddish in fall.  Very hardy.


M. s. ‘Silver Feather’


         6-7 ft.  Medium-wide green leaves.  Aug.-Sept. blooms, white.


M. s. ‘Strictus’

Porcupine Grass


         6-7 ft. tall.  Wide leaves with gold-banded variegation.  Flower head late, cream colored.


M. s. ‘Variegatus’


         6 ft. Wide leaves with significant white stripes.  Blooms in September, cream color.


Molina litorialis ‘Skyracer’


         Tall, airy, stiff seed heads (panicles) above green foliage clump.  Full to part sun, well drained soil.  Undemanding. Good for height but does not block a view for being so thin, veil-like.


Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blues’



         Tall switchgrass with wide, straplike, fountaining, silvery blades.  Bloom panicles are a nice contrasting brick-red.  A bold plant.


Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’



         Stiff, upright, 4-5 ft. silvery-blue leaf and stem.  Warm-season, clump-forming.  Heads are loose panicles, effective into winter.  Good yellow fall color.  Full sun,  tolerates wet or dry, tough.  Native.


Panicum virgatum ‘Northwinds’



         Tall variety, stiffly-upright.


Panicum virgatum ‘Rehbrawn’

Red Switchgrass


         3-4 ft. panicum, green leaf in summer turns red in fall.  See above for culture.


Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’


         Short for the species, only 36 in. and not as vigorous.  Leaves are variable burgundy, but become more burgundy as summer progresses.  Mid-summer airy panicle display is a good red.


Pennisetum alopecuroides

Fountain Grass


         3-4 ft., clump-forming, warm-season grass.  Green leaf that fountains.  Flowers like fluffy fox tails freely July to September.  Nice coppery fall color, winter interest.  Full sun, soil tolerant.  Marginally hardy.


Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’


         Zone 6.  Tall variety to 40 in. with intense smokey-purple heads all summer.  Deep green arching leaf blades.  Full sun, moist well-drained soil.  Heavy feeder.


Pennisetum setaceum ‘Burgundy Giant’


         Similar to ‘Rubrum’ but taller to 5 ft., wider leaves.  Not hardy.


Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’


         Shorter variety, blooms early to mid summer.  Hardier.  See above.


Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’


         Burgundy leaf with rich, pink, fluffy, foxtail-like bloom mid summer on.  2-3 ft. tall.  Not hardy, treat as annual.  Full sun, well drained soil.


Phalaris arundinacea ‘Feesey’

Ribbon Grass


         2-3 ft. tall.  Wide leaves striped white and blushed pink in spring.  Invasive by root.  Tolerates some shade and wet soil.


Schizachyrium scoparium

Little Bluestem


         Warm-season, clump-forming native to 32 in.  Forms clump of stiff, wiry leaves.  Heads in August turn tufted and fluffy later and persist into winter.  Very ornamental orange fall color.  Full to good sun.  Moist to dry soil, sand or clay.


Sorghastrum nutans

Indian Grass


         Tall native grass to 5 ft. tall, warm-season, clump-forming.  Foliage is bluish green.  Showy golden flowers in August.


Sorgastrum nutans ‘Sioux Blue’

Indian Grass


         Native grass with steely blue leaves and stems.  Warm season.  Non-invasive.  Reseeds.  4-5 ft. tall.  Fluffy yellow flowers in August.  Very attractive.  Golden orange fall color.  Very erect habit.


Spartina pectinata

Prairie Cord Grass


         Native grass with shiny, streaming leaves.  Found in moist, full sun sites.  Invasive underground rhizomes.  Coarse chicken-footed head mid-summer.  Nice yellow fall color.  About 5 ft. tall.


Spodiopogon sibericus

Frost Grass


         4-5 ft., clump-forming, warm season.  Wide, green leaves stand horizontal from stems; bamboo effect.  Airy panicles August, showy sturdy.  Sun to part shade.  Moist, well drained soil.


Sporobolis heterolepsis


         18-30 in. tall.  Slender, green leaves in basal clumps.  Whispy, airy panicles  in August mature to golden-orange fall color.  Flowers have coriander fragrance.  Full sun to some shade, moist to dry soil.


Sporobolis wrightii

Giant Sacaton Grass


         Tall see-through grass with feathering, 7 ft. branched heads, arching leaves to 4 ft.  Vigorous and drought tolerant.


Typha shuttelworthii



         Mid-sized cattail to 5 ft. with long, slender heads.  Moist to shallow standing water.  Full sun.