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Tough and Beautiful: Ornamental Grasses for The Water-Wise Garden.

The foundation of every good landscape is foliage.

If you forget to focus on foliage when planning your garden, thinking only of the flowers, you may find your landscape a bit lackluster once the blooms fade. When it comes to good looks and resilience, ornamental grasses are one of the toughest groups of foliage plants for Texas gardens.

Purple fountain grass
Purple fountain grass


Ornamental grasses provide a wide array of foliage and color choices to complement your garden.  One of the most desirable varieties is purple fountain grass, Pennisetum rubrum.  While purple fountain grass is an annual in our climate, it provides beautiful foliage color and blooms from spring through the first hard frost.  Add it to a sunny perennial beds, around pools and in large containers for low-maintenance beauty. Plants grow to 4-feet tall.

Mexican Feather Grass
Mexican Feather Grass

Another sought out selection is Mexican feather grass, Nassella tenuissima. This small grass is a favorite for its slender wispy foliage and feathery blooms. Its compact size makes Mexican feather grass perfect for small gardens. Plants sway in the breeze giving your garden movement and texture. Plant in a sunny location where soil is well-drained and not too wet.  Plant in containers with other low-water plants, such as succulents.

Maiden grasses in the genus Miscanthus  can grow upwards of 12-feet tall in clumps that grow just as wide. Maiden grasses are well adapted to Dallas gardens and create stunning specimens. If you don’t have quite enough space to accommodate the larger cultivars, look for the dwarf selection ‘Adagio’, which grows only 3- to 4-feet tall. ‘Morning Light’ is a slender variegated cultivar that tucks perfectly into the perennial garden and provides contrast. Plants grow 5-feet tall clumps remain narrow.

Inland sea oats with Oak leaf Hydrangea
Inland sea oats with Oak leaf Hydrangea

Grasses typically need a full sun location.

However, there are a handful that appreciate some shade in our Texas climate. Inland sea oats, Chasmanthium latifolium, is a must have for the dry shade garden. This Texas native grows to about 3-feet tall and produces bamboo-like foliage. Unique large seed heads follow, emerging green and then turning wheat-colored. This grass is very low-maintenance, but plants will spread by seed. It’s best planted where you have lots of space to fill.

Ornamental grasses are a great choice for low-maintenance water-wise gardens.

There are many more wonderful species to choose from, so be sure to stop by and check out our great selection!

Keep an eye on our upcoming class schedule for the popular: Texas Tried & True Perennials class, which we repeat on a regular basis. If you need help sooner, come speak to our garden advisors anytime to get your questions answered.

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This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I agree that aesthetic features of ornamental plants can make the landscape more beautiful and attractive. However, I have a hard time looking for ornamental plants that is low cost maintenance in terms of water and fertilizing. Would you mind suggest any variety?

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