Fab 5 Grasses For Fall Colour
By Shirley Martin
When you look out to your garden, past the tired annuals, what is providing colour in the landscape? What is luring you outdoors to investigate and enjoy? In this series we will explore five fabulous ornamental grasses that you can count on to bring colour to your autumn garden.
There are several grasses that really come into their own this time of year. You’ve likely seen the feather reed grass “Karl Foerster” (Calamagrostis x actiflora) in gardens, both residential and commercial. It’s popularity hasn’t waned over the years and the reasons are many. Karl Foerster is one of those grasses that isn’t very fussy, making it perfect as a statement piece on its own or in groupings. It tolerates the worst soils, can tolerate periods of drought once it’s established, grows in sun to part sun, offers months of interest, and is not invasive. It’s a tall grass, 4 -5 feet high with the flower stalk that resembles wheat. It’s hardy in zones 3-8.
“Flamingo Maiden Grass” (Miscanthus sinensis). Hardy to zone 4, this beauty is a real eye-catcher in autumn. This miscanthus blooms late summer with the flowers lasting through the winter. The foliage takes on shades of red and yellow while the flowers fade to white from pink. It grows 5-6 feet tall including the flower fronds and up to 5 feet wide. It does best in full sun. Flamingo maiden grass prefers moist well-drained soil. It is deer and rabbit resistant.
Blue Oat Grass (Helictrotrichon sempervirens) has electric blue foliage topped with fine buff beige flowers. Blue oat grass does best in full sun in well-drained soil. Growing to a height of 3 feet and a width of 2-3 feet, this smaller grass retains it’s blue hue right up until winter. Clump form. Hardy to zone 3.
Blood Brothers (Panicum virgatum) is an outstanding grass for fall colour! Growing 4-5 feet high and 2-3 feet wide, this clumping somewhat vase shaped grass is stunning when planted en masse! The blue green foliage mixed with red becomes intensely red in the fall. It sports airy seed heads late summer that start red and fade to tan. It’s not fussy about it’s soil nor the ph. Deer resistant. Desires full sun. Zones 4-9.
Northern Lights Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia caespitosa) is a variegated grass with light sprays of blooms. This grass is stunning against a dark backdrop where the contrast is accented. The flowers are gold toned and emerge in summer. As the temperature cools the foliage takes on a pink hue. It grows 12 inches tall and wide. Northern Lights prefers a partial shaded area and moist to wet soil. It is deer resistant. Hardy to zone 4.