Ornamental grasses bring variety to winter landscape

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Landscapes can be just as exciting during the winter as they are during the rest of the year according to Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

"During the winter, texture and movement become as important as color, and ornamental grasses have much to offer," said Byers.

Ornamental grasses are grown for their ornamental value, like showy leaves and showy seed heads. They generally are of interest anytime of the year and can range in size from less than 12 inches to over 20 feet.

Examples of ornamental grasses include: Maiden or Japanese silver grass (Miscanthus); fountain grass (Pennisetum); giant reed grass (Callimagrostis); and prairie dropseed (Sporobolus).

There are both perennial and annual types of ornamental grasses available.

"It is best to plant ornamental grasses in the spring," said Byers. "Then cut them back in the later winter before growth begins.

"Ornamental grasses make ideal garden plants. Most are vigorous, require minimal care and tolerate a wide array of exposures and soil types. Most are winter hardy in Missouri's climate, which makes annual replanting unnecessary. It is no wonder that ornamental grasses enjoy great popularity in the gardening world today," said Byers.

An MU Extension guide sheet entitled, "Ornamental Grasses" is available online at extension.missouri.edu or at the nearest MU Extension Center.

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