October 1, 2017
I like big grasses and it ain’t no lie. Ornamental grasses are often unassuming in the landscape waiting for their turn in the spotlight. Let’s take a look at some of my fall favorites. One of my all-time favorites is pampas grass, though I may have a love hate relationship with this perennial grass. I love the six to seven foot tall plants and then the flower stalks shoot up and can be up to ten feet tall. The flat grass blades have a rough surface, think sand paper, and have very sharp edges. This is the hate part of the equation especially when it comes to spring pruning. Another big grass for the landscape is Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’. The coarse wide leaves of this grass are dark purple black. Reaching 4 feet tall or more, the upright growth of this grass creates a landscape presence. This plant requires little maintenance and should be planted in the full sun for best color. ‘Vertigo’ should be considered an annual except on the coast where it may be perennial. While not officially a grass, the grass-like King Tut papyrus will easily grow to 6 foot tall and features triangular green stems. Each stem is topped by an umbellate inflorescence of 100 thread-like rays. The flower clusters appear at the ends of the rays. King Tut isn’t hardy below Zone 9, but when grown as an annual will reach impressive size. When your flowering annuals are starting to fade let the big grasses shine in the fall season. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.