Acorus - A "grass-like" plant that is not a grass. Described in our Bog Page.
Agropyron scabrum - New Zealand Blue Grass - This small grass from New Zealand has chalk grey-blue foliage that lays flat on the ground. An attractive plant for the rockery or as a small scale ground cover. Plant in well drained soil in a sunny position and water occasionally for best results. Plant not currently in production
Anemanthele lessoniana- (Oryzopsis lessoniana, Stipa arundinacea) A beautiful orange-brown grass from New Zealand that is related to North American grasses such as Indian Rice Grass and the Needlegrass. This tussock forming grass grows to 3 feet tall with gracefully arching and feathery inflorescences. Although this plant can grow in full sun to deep shade, its beautiful orange coloring is most apparent in the full sun. In New Zealand this plant has proved to be very adaptable, growing well in fairly dry situations in full sun as well as in understory plantings but it has yet to be tested in gardens in the US. Our thanks to Oratia Native Plant Nursery for the seed for this gem. Plant not currently in production - seems better suited to cooler climates.
Aristida purpurea 'Chino Hills' - Purple Three Awn - Native grass with fine textured leaves to 30" tall and purple flowers that are showy when the sunlight illuminates them in the summer and fall. Drought tolerant. Frost Hardy to about 10 degrees F. Originally collected by Dylan Hannon (RSABG) in Tonner Canyon (Chino Puente Hills-Orange County near LA County line).Plant not currently in production
Arrhenatherum elatius bulbosum 'Variegatum' - Bulbous Oat Grass - This semi-deciduous, low growing (8-12") white-variegated clump grass forms bulbous nodes at ground level. Good in perennial borders or as an accent plant. Looks best if cut to the ground after summer flowering. Plant in light shade to full sun (along coast); and although this plant will tolerate fairly dry conditions, it looks better when watered regularly. Native to Europe.Plant not currently in production
Arundo formosana 'Oriental Gold'(PPAF)- 'Oriental Gold' Giant Reed - Native Chinese selection of the Giant Reed forms large clumps which emerge arching stems of golden yellow foliage. Brilliant golden foliage with irregular green stripes grace the 8 foot long slightly arching stems. . Late summer into fall terminal blooms are light and airy, opening pink and turning a buff color. Works well in containers. This selection of the giant reed is a perfect choice for a dramatic accent or used in the background. Ideally suited in full sun to partial shade. Evergreen in mild winters to dormant in more severe. Cold hardy to 20 degrees F.Plant not currently in production
Austrostipa elegantissima - Austalian Needlegrass - An interesting and beautiful evergreen small grass that begins to bloom in early spring and continues on into fall. The older flowers dry and remain so that the floral display builds and billows out from the center tof the plant to create a silvery mound of wiry light catching awns. A good grass for a wild section of the garden. This is a very drought resistant grass. Cut back to the ground in the winter to give a tidier appearance.Plant not currently in production
Austrostipa ramosissima - Pillar of Smoke - A tall growing cool-season evergreen grass has columnar growth habit to 6 feet tall with bright green foliage and showy flowers that bloom along the inflorescence in such a way that the illusion of a pillar of smoke is created. The flowers in branched panicles 6 to 8 inches long appear continuously in cultivation and emerge a silky bronze color, aging first to cream and finally to gray. Its is heat-and drought-tolerance although plants look better with occasional irrigation. Evergreen in mild climates, and is reported by John Greenlee as having withstood 18 degrees F without damage. Its hardiness in colder climates is unknown. Tolerates wind and coastal conditions. What others say: John Greenlee says "Pillar of smoke is a stunning addition to the American nursery trade that has caused a sensation on the California horticultural scene sure to ripple across the country." Rick Darke says "this grass blooms nearly continuously in cultivation, producing a dense, towering mass of fine-textured inflorescences." Nevin Smith says "Open sprays of small, pendant spikelets grace the plant in late summer and fall. ... A very beautiful grass."Plant not currently in production
Bamboo - these woody grasses are listed seperately at Bamboo
Bothriochloa barbinodis- Cane Bluestem - This deciduous warm season native grass can be found from the desert to the coast in southern California and as far east as Oklahoma. It forms a leafy clump with flowers towering to 3-5 feet. The cream to silver white flowers, which appear
from May through October, are clustered like small fingers at the tip of the inflorescence. The foliage can blush with warm colors as it goes dormant in late fall after which the plant can be left for ornament or cut to the ground. A great plant in a natural setting or meadow garden. The flowers look very attractive in dry arrangements.Plant not currently in production
Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition - Blonde Ambition Blue Grama. A long-lived warm season tufted perennial grass with fine-textured gray-green leaves to 12 to 18 inches tall with dainty flowers that are held like small horizontal flags on stems that rise above the foliage to 2 1/2 feet tall in early summer and hold seed heads through fall. This selection is more robust with larger flowers than typical Blue Grama and these flowers are a chartreuse color that age to blond instead of the typical dark purplish flowers of the species. Plant in full sun in most any soil so long as it is well-drained. Water occasionally to very little - plants fill in faster and look best when irrigated but this is a drought tolerant grass and is very cold tolerant.
Bouteloua 'Pestañas de Angeles' - California Blue Grama. This is a truly a California native selection of this long-lived warm season tufted perennial grass species. It grows only about 6 inches tall with fine-textured gray-green leaves with dainty flowers held horizontally like small purple flags on stems that rise above the foliage in early summer and hold seed heads into fall. Plant in full sun in most any soil so long as it is well-drained. Water occasionally to very little - plants fill in faster and look best when irrigated but this is a drought tolerant grass and is very cold tolerant.
Buchloe dactyloides 'Buffalo Bill' - Bull Buffalo Grass. A long lived perennial warm season short grass that grows to 3 to 5 inches tall with soft, gray-green slender curling leaves and spreads slowly by above ground stolons. The winter color of this plant is tan with new foliage emerging as temperatures warm, in our area this occurs in late February and in late winter to spring (March to April) appear the small tawny colored male flowers that rise just a few inches above the foliage.
Calamagrostis foliosus - Mendocino Reed Grass - This short native California bunchgrass comes from the northern California coast. It has blue-green foliage and very attractive short arching flower stalks that age to a golden wheat color. Useful along the coast in full sun or light shade inland. Looks best in southern California if given occasional irrigation.
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Overdam' - Variegated Reed Grass - Evergreen grass with variegated foliage to 3' tall. Full sun. Red-bronze tinted flowers on spikes to 5 feet tall in in summer. Hardy to below 15 degrees F. Water moderately. longitudinally cream-white striped. Smaller than 'Karl Foerster'. C x acutiflora cultivars are the result of crossing Calamagrostis epigejos with Calamagrostis arundinacea. Plant not currently in production
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'['Stricta'] - Feather Reed Grass - A rich green clump forming evergreen grass with rigidly erect stems 2-4 ft. tall. The pink tinged flowers emerge in spring on narrow erect panicles held 2 ft. or more above foliage. One of the best grasses for flower accent from spring to winter as flowers mature a golden wheat color. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Will tolerate fairly dry conditions but looks
best when given regular garden watering. Combine with woody ornamentals, or as an accent or background plant.
Carex - These "grasslike" plants are called sedges. They are often included with grasses in descriptive lists. We have so many that they have their
Chasmanthium latifolium - Sea Oats - Deciduous clumping grass of pale yellow-green bamboo-like foilage topped with arching flowering stems to 3 ft. Graceful nodding sliver green spikelets that resemble flattened clusters of oats emerge in spring, maturing by fall to a rich bronze color. Plant in full sun along coast, partial shade inland. Best with average garden watering. Tolerates seaside exposure. Excellent for dried
arrangements. Will reseed in the irrigated garden.
Chrysopogon zizanioides 'Sunshine - Vetiver. - A selection of Vetiver that is an evergreen grass that grows in dense erect clumps to 4 to 5 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide with narrow rigid upwardly-growing leaves that are often bent downwards at a steep angle 1 to 2 feet from the tip. The light green leaves flush an attractive bronze color in cooler months. Plant in full sun to light shade. Its adaptability to various situations is phenomenal, with the ability to withstand months submerged yet the strong fibrous roots, which grow as deep as 6 to 12 feet, give this plant incredible drought tolerance and also makes it an excellent plant for soil stabilization on a slope and useful for penetrating and breaking up compacted soils.
Cortaderia selloana 'Gold Band' - Golden Pampas Grass - Compact evergreen plant growing to a height of 6 ft. The thin rough textured leaves have narrow bands of yellow along the margins. As with the other Cortaderia, 'Gold Band' is tolerant of both heat and cold. Elegant tall silvery-white plumes appear in fall. A stunning grass for accent! We have never had this plant produce any seedlings in our gardens or crop areas.Plant not currently in production
Cortaderia selloana 'Pumila' - Dwarf Pampas Grass - Smaller, finer textured version of C. selloana reaching 4-6 ft. tall with 6-7 ft. flower spikes. This is the most floriferous cultivar of Pampas Grass: In late summer a single plant can have over 100 flower stalks. Cortadenria selloana 'Pumilla is an excellent grass for a larger area. Drought resistant. Native to South America. Originally thought to be a sterile plant (posibly a male cultivar) Cortaderia selloana 'Pumilla' is now known to produce some viable seed. Given the number of flowers produced this has caused us to label the plant as "nearly sterile". A large plant in our own garden produced only 1 seedling over the course of 3 flowering seasons. Although this plant has not proved to be a weed pest in Southern California, there is growing concern about the planting of any species of Cortaderia and care should be excercised when planting this grass in in locations where seed may spred into sensitive habitats. Plant not currently in production
Cortaderia selloana 'Silver Comet' - Silver Streak Pampas Grass - A smaller, finer textured version of C. selloana reaching 6 ft. tall with white longitudinal variegation, mainly on the edge of the leaf. Drought resistant. Absolutely the showiest of the variegated Pampas Grasses. We originally spotted this plant growing at Western Hills Nursery in Occidental, CA where it lit up the section of garden it was growing in. Our thanks to Bob Hornback for giving us the initial stock plant from which we built our crops of this beautiful grass which we sold between 2001 and 2011 and we still have a large specimen of in the garden. This cultivar has never flowered in the over 20 years we have had it in our nursery garden and as such, it also had never resseded. Since it is Cortaderia selloana cultivar however, as a cultivar of what is considered to be an invassive weed species we decided to no longer grow this beautiful large grass and now only enjoy it in our own garden
Elymus - See Leymus
Eragrostis elliotti 'Tallahassee Sunset' - Blue Lovegrass - A warm season grass, native to southeastern U.S (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina) that forms nice clumps of narrow powder-blue foliage that rises to about 18-24" tall (to 3' with ample irrigation). The 3 foot tall flowers stalks rise in mid to late spring, opening into a buff colored haze of flowers that lasts into fall and winter. Plant in full sun to light shade in well drained soil. Water sparingly or regularly. Thought to be hardy to USDA 6 (-10° F). Good as a specimen plant or massed in a border planting with contrasting colored and textured foliage. Can be used in a natural lawn with only one mowing required in the spring - not tolerant of foot traffic. Attractive to birds and butterflies. Also commonly known as Elliot Lovegrass.
Festuca amethystina 'April Gruen' - Green Sheep Fescue - A fine textured evergreen low growing (under 1 ft.) blue-green clumping grass. Unusual color makes this grass useful with other fescues. The short flower panicles appear in late spring to early summer. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil. Has proven to be moderately drought resistant and makes a good edging plant. Native to the Alps and southern Europe.
Festuca californica 'River House Blues' - California Fescue. An elegant evergreen (along coast) mid-sized bunch grass that forms fountain-like growth from tight clumps arching up to 2 feet tall by about as wide with chalky-blue foliage. In summer appear the elegant flower stalks that rise above the foliage an additional 2 to 3 feet with airy open sprays of pink-tinged flowers that age to a nice wheat color. Plant in full sun to shade and irrigate occasionally to infrequently. It is tolerant of a wide variety of soil types and is drought tolerant, particularly in shade plantings but looks best with an occasional watering. For the coast it is evergreen and in colder areas it is root hardy to around 0° F (USDA Zone 7).
A cool season grass that has been, until recently, sold under the name Festuca ovina glauca or sometimes F. cinerea. Previously seedling grown, there are now many fine cultivars to be found. Plant in full sun to light shade. Good for low mass plantings. Although drought resistant, plants will look better with occasional irrigation in a well drained soil. Some forms will experience a summer dormancy - be careful not to overwater them at this time.
Cut back plants to 3-4 inches tall in fall. We currently grow grow the following forms.
'Azurit' - This blue-silver medium textured fescue is one of our favorites because it seems to have the best summer color of the blue fescue. It grows to 12-16 inches tall.
'Blausilber' [Blue-silver] - Blue-Silver Fescue - A fine textured blue fescue to 6 in. tall. Plant in full sun to light shade. One of the best blue cultivars but does experience a late summer dormancy. Plant not currently in production.
'Elijah Blue' - A smaller and tighter medium textured blue fescue that grows to only 8 - 10 inches tall with very nice soft powdery blue color. The buff color flowers, on 15 inch stems, appear in early summer. This has proven to be one of the most popular fescues because of its size,
reliable bloom, and tidy appearance through the summer.
Festuca muelleri - Mueller's Fescue - A fine textured green fescue to about 5 in. tall. It makes a dense mat and can be used as an unclipped lawn or ground cover. Plant in full sun. More heat tolerant than F. tenuifolium. A drought resistant small grass.
Festuca rubra 'Point Joe' - Point Joe Fescue. A small native California bunch grass to 6 inches tall clumping to 2 feet wide with very attractive narrow chalky-blue leaf blades. In spring into summer appear the 18 inch tall stalks bearing wheat-colored flowers. Plant in full sun to part shade in most any soil and irrigate regularly to occasionally - can take some periods without water but looks best if irrigated. Hardy to 0° F. This plant can be used for a moderate to low water requiring lawn in coastal landscapes where there is not much cross traffic. For a more manicured look it is recommended that it be mowed to 4" tall.
Festuca 'Siskiyou Blue' - Siskiyou Blue Fescue. A long living cool season bunch grass with tight clumps of narrow chalky-blue foliage 12 to 18 inches tall by slightly wider with flowers stalks rising straight up about 6 inches above the foliage in late spring into early summer. Plant in full sun to light shade in most regular to barren well-drained soils with regular, occasional to infrequent irrigation. Very cold hardy (to USDA Zone 4). Resistant to deer predation. This is an elegant looking fescue with leaves that are longer than the typical European fescues for a softer more graceful look.
Glyceria maxima 'Variegata' - Variegated Manna Grass - This rhizomatous grass has bright cream-yellow-striped leaves, often flushed pink when young. Smaller-growing than the species, to only 2 feet tall, and rarely flowering. Plant in full sun to light shade. Has high water needs and is best if planted in the a pond or boggy area. Hardy to <15 degrees F. can really brighten up a pond.Plant not currently in production.
Helictotrichon sempervirens - Blue Oat Grass - This stunning European grass has been one of the most popular plants we have grwon for many years. It is a cool season evergreen clump forming grass that grows to 2 feet tall with blue-gray leaves radiating out like a bristly porcupine. The light tan flowers are on erect spikes that rise a foot above the foliage in summer. Use as an accent plant or in mass plantings. Plant in full sun or light shade and give occasional irrigation. Best in soils with good drainage and may rot in heavy soils, especially if over irrigated. The blue color occurs in dryer soils when plant is in full sun or bright shade; too much shade and the plant flops over and opens up in the middle. Maintain plants by removing withered leaves as they appear or by occasionally pulling a steel rake through the foliage. This plant remains evergreen in mild climates but is considered semi-evergreen in areas that experience harsher winters. In these areas it is best to trim plants back close to the ground in late winter.'Sapphire', a new more disease resistant cultivar with wider and bluer leaves called has begun to replace the species.
Helictotrichon semp 'Sapphire' - Sapphire Blue Oat Grass - This cool season evergreen clump forming grass to 2 feet tall has blue-gray leaves radiating out like a bristly porcupine. The light tan flowers are on erect spikes that rise a foot above the foliage in summer. Use as an accent plant or in mass plantings. Plant in full sun or light shade and give occasional irrigation. Best in soils with good drainage and may rot in heavy soils, especially if over irrigated. The blue color occurs in dryer soils when plant is in full sun or bright shade; too much shade and the plant flops over and opens up in the middle. Maintain plants by removing withered leaves as they appear or by occasionally pulling a steel rake through the foliage. This plant remains evergreen in mild climates but is considered semi-evergreen in areas that experience harsher winters. In these areas it is best to trim plants back close to the ground in late winter. The cultivar 'Sapphire' is more vigorous and has better disease resistance to rust and other fungal diseases than the species (not much of a problem in drier climates). It also has bluer and slightly broader leaves. The original German cultivar name of 'Saphirsprundel' has been translated and appears in many American catalogs as Sapphire Fountain’ or Sapphire’. Plant not currently in production.
Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra' (I. c.'Red Baron') - Japanese Blood Grass - A low growing deciduous grass with an upright habit to 1 ft tall. The vertical leaf blades emerge a lime-green color in spring with a hint of red at the tips. As the season progresses a cranberry-red color progressively works down towards the leaf base . Back lit, this green and red combination is spectacular. This process repeats itself when the plant goes dormant with a gray-brown color at the tips working down towards the leaf base. Use in mass in moist well drained soils in full sun to light shade. It is also very attractive as a container plant specimen. Plant not currently in production.
Juncus - "grass-like" plants that are described in our Bog Page.
Leersia monandra - Bunch Cutgrass. A North American perennial bunchgrass that forms clumps 1 to 2 feet tall with narrow culms holding soft textured light lime green narrow 6 to 12 inch long leaves. Rising above the foliage year-round and are the erect and delicately branched inflorescences with panicles of small spikelets. Plant in coastal sun or shade and irrigate regularly to only occasionally - considered to be fairly dry growing in the shade and has a good tolerance to poor and limey soils.
Leymus arenarius 'Glaucus' - Blue Rye or European Dune Grass - This native to northern Europe is a vigorous semi-deciduous spreading (rhizomatous) grass with 2-3 ft. tall upright blue-gray blades: For many years sold erroneously as Elymus glaucus which is a native California grass. Use as an accent plant or a ground cover. Good for erosion control and beachside conditions. Plant in full sun and give average to little water . Makes a good container plant where its invasiveness can be contained.
Leymus arenarius 'Findhorn' - A compact cultivar of Leymus arenarius (see above) growing to 1 foot tall. A very attractive plant for use as a low groundcover or a container plant. Less aggressive than E. arenarius. Plant not currently in production
Leymus condensatus 'Canyon Prince' - This native medium sized gray-blue evergreen grass is a selection made by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden from Prince Island, a small island off of San Miguel Island in the Santa Barbara Channel. It is a densely growing rhizomatous grass to 2-3 ft. tall in a dry location, larger if given regular watering. The flower stalks rise 1-2 ft. above the foliage and are topped with tight congested clusters of flowers. This beautiful drought resistant grass is more striking and much less invasive than the European Dune Grass .
Lomandra – The grass-like plants are listed on their own Lomandra Page.
Lygeum spartum - False Esparto Grass. A slowly spreading rhizomatous grass with attractive vertically-inclined pale yellowish gray-green rush-like leaves that grow to 2-3 feet tall. In spring into summer appear the curious flowers of this grass which have 2 or 3 large single flower spikelets fused together at the base surrounded by many long hairs and are further enveloped by a pair of large pale-colored spathe-like bracts. Plant in full sun to light shade in most any soil and irrigate occasionally to infrequently. It is drought & salt tolerant and hardy to around 10° F.
Melinis nerviglumis - Ruby Grass. A small semi-evergreen cool-season grass from S. Africa that forms a tidy 1 foot tall clump. It has blue-green foliage that turns purplish-red in the fall and showy pink flowers that rise a foot above the foliage in the spring and summer with spent flowers still attractive into winter. Best in full sun with regular water in a well-drained soil but tolerates considerable periods without irrigation and near seaside conditions. Is hardy to around 20° F and perennial in gardens in USDA Zones 8 and above but useful as an annual in colder climates. Cut back in fall to midwinter to allow fresh new foliage to emerge in early spring.
Miscanthus sinensis - Eulalia, Japanese Silver Grass - This clumping warm season grass has many desirable forms which are described below. In general they all begin growth in late winter, reach full size by June and begin to produce their airy and beautiful flowers from July through September after which the plants begin to go dormant and turn a wheat color. The flowers are all useful in dry arrangements. Plants can be cut
back to the ground as early as late November or their dormant forms can be enjoyed through the winter. Cutting back once during the active growing season can produce a better looking and less floppy plant. Plant in full sun to light shade in a very wet to fairly dry location. Expect some forms to reseed in an irrigated garden and do not use near natural wetlands as there is potential for this plant to become a weed where there is summer moisture.
'Adagio' - Dwarf Maiden Grass - This warm season grass is the diminutive form of the Maiden Grass or Japanese Silver Grass, Miscanthus sinensis. It forms 2-3 feet tall clumps of thin (3/8” wide) silver-green foliage and late season bronzy flower plumes that rise above the foliage to 5 feet tall. In cool climates the foliage has a late fall seaonal change of color turning orange, gold and burgundy. Hardy to USDA zone 5-6 (-20 °F) with some mulch protection required in zone 5. Plant in full sun to light shade and water regularly. Selected by Kurt Blumel. Often compared to and noted as superior to the popular cultivar 'Yaku Jima'.
condensatus 'Cabaret' A very exciting new cultivar that grows to 6 feet tall with bold variegated bands down the center of the leaf blade. This plant will make a dramatic statement in any garden. Plant not currently in production
condensatus'Cosmopolitan' A large leafed form of the variegated Eulalia grass with broader leaves and bold longitudinal bands of white. Considered by
many to be an improved form because of its tendency to remain upright throughout the season. Remains semi-evergreen in our mild climate. Plant not currently in production
'Gracillimus' - Maiden Grass - A large grass to 6 ft. tall with a thin leaf blade, giving it a finer texture than the other Miscanthus (except 'Morning Light'). Quite useful as a background plant or as a specimen planting. Fall foliage turns orange in cool climates. Plant not currently in production
'Morning Light' - Similar to Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracilimus' but with a creamy white variegated edge and mid-vein to the blade that gives the plant a shimmering look. This clump-forming grass grows to 5 ft. tall. Plant in full sun to bring out its best color. Has been in cultivation in Japan for over 100 years. One of the most attractive ornamental grasses that we grow!
'Strictus' - Zebra Grass - This large grass with striking yellow horizontal bands on upright foliage can reach 5-7 ft. tall. Banding is most pronounced when plants are grown in full sun and given occasional watering. This plant is often confused with M. sinensis 'Zebrinus' although from our experience 'Strictus' is a superior plant. Fall color is a light-tan. Plant not currently in production
'Variegatus' - Variegated Japanese Silver Grass - This 5-7 ft. tall grass has bands of white in longitudinal bands along the entire length of the leaf blade and beautiful flowering plumes that rise above the foliage. A great accent or specimen plant and a good cut flower. The first of the Miscanthus in the trade. Plant not currently in production
Miscanthus transmorrisonensis - Evergreen Maiden Grass - This evergreen clumping grass has foliage to 3-4 ft. tall that spreads in all directions producing a 8 ft. wide plant. It is graced with arching 5-6 ft tall golden spikes that arch up and out from the foliage. Flowers occur late spring through winter. Although it is drought resistant, it looks best with occasional watering. Full sun to part shade. Excellent for dramatic accent and erosion control. Give this plant some room. Our thanks to John Greenlee for this grass, what he calls "the best Miscanthus for the West".
Molinia caerulea 'Variegata'- Variegated Purple Moor Grass - This deciduous grass is a selected clone of Purple Moor Grass that has a smaller stature than the species, with foliage only growing to 12-18” tall and having the leaves margined in pale yellow. In mid summer emerger the 2-3' tall narrow wands bearing purplish flowers that fade to reddish brown with age. Plant in full sun in acid to neutral soil and give regular irrigation. Hardy to 0°F or less. This plant does very well in the bay area and cooler north coast of California. Molinia may not perform as well in southern California but is so beautiful we feel the need to grow it for those who want to try to push the limits of this beautiful grass's tolerances. Plant not currently in production
Muhlenbergia capillaris - Hairy Awn Muhly - A beautiful grass from south-eastern United States with stunning pink, airy flowering panicles that hover cloud-like above the fine textured olive-green foliage. The foliage of this grass reaches to nearly 2 feet tall with the flowers topping 3 feet. The flowers first appear in September and remain pink for over a month, slowly aging towards brown into winter. Cut back the plants when first becoming dormant, or leave as an attractive brown accent until early spring. Although this grass comes from moister habitats, it is surprisingly drought resistant. Looks best with an occasional watering.
Muhlenbergia capillaris 'White Cloud' - White Awn Muhly. A medium-sized grass forming a clump of narrow blue-green foliage 2 to 3 feet tall and in fall the flower stems rise another foot or more above the foliage holding an airy mass of delicate ivory-white flowers that can last through winter depending on the climate. It is a little larger and stiffer with a more upright habit than the familiar Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and it also blooms a little later. Plant in full sun in a wide range of soils. It is fairly drought tolerant but this southeastern US grass will likely appreciate occasional irrigation in our dry California climate. Noted as hardy to USDA Zone 6 but flowers are apt to last through to spring in Zones 9 and above and it reportedly is resistant to deer predation.
Muhlenbergia dubia - Pine Muhly. dense evergreen clump-forming grass with upright foliage to 24 to 36 inches and erect narrow cream, aging-to-tan-colored flower spikes to 3 to 4 feet tall in late summer and fall. This grass comes from elevations of 3,300-5,000 feet in the Chihuahuan desert from eastern Arizona, New Mexico, South Texas and northern Mexico. Plant in full sun in fairly well-drained soil. Little supplemental irrigation required but can handle more regular irrigation if soil drains well. Hardy to USDA Zone 7 (0-10 F°). A great looking smaller grass that is similar in appearance but about half the size of California Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) and, as such, is more usable in smaller gardens.
Muhlenbergia dumosa - Bamboo Muhly - An interesting grass from southern Arizona and northern Mexico that looks like a dainty bamboo with its 4-6 feet tall light airy bright green foliage. In late fall and into winter the foliage tips are decorated with masses of small flowers that give the plant a pale pinkish-green cast. Although rhizomatous, it spreads slowly and is easily controlled. Plant in full sun and water occasionally. Drought resistant.
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri - Lindheimer's Muhly - This very attractive medium/ large grass from Texas forms a mass of fine textured gray foliage 3-4 feet tall. In late summer the vertical shafts of the flower stalks emerge well above the foliage (to 6+ ft) to show off the pale gray flower spikes tipped with small dark purple flowers. A great grass for the border or to stand alone as a specimen. Plant in full sun. This Muhly withstands very dry situations plants but will be more robust and flower better with an occasional irrigation. Good for fresh or dry cut flowers.
Muhlenbergia 'Pink Flamingo' - Pink Flamingo Muhly. An upright warm-season grass that has foliage to 3 to 4 feet tall by 2 to 3 feet wide with narrow gray-green leaves. In late summer into mid fall appear airy pink flower spikes, arching above the foliage by about one and a half feet. Plant in full sun and irrigate occasionally to infrequently. Hardy to at least -10 °and useful in USDA Zones 6-10 - some report good in zone 5 (-20 °F) as well. This is a tough heat-loving grass that has performed well in the dry southwest US and in Texas.
Muhlenbergia pubescens - Soft Muhly - An unusual and attractive medium sized evergreen grass from Mexico growiing to 2 feet tall with velvety soft gray-green foliage reminiscent of the Tower of Jewels (Echium wilpretii). Flower stalks arch gracefully above foliage in late spring. Use this plant in groups or as an accent plant in full sun to light shade; little irrigation is required. Great along a path where foliage can be touched. Plant not currently in production
Muhlenbergia reverchonii Undaunted - Ruby Muhly. A small warm season clump forming grass that grows 18 to 24 inches tall (maybe a little taller in optimum conditions) by as wide with fine textured gray-green narrow leaves. In mid-summer to fall appear the purple-red flowers that are earlier and a bit less pink than the more common Gulf Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) and are followed by equally attractive airy seed heads. Plant in full to part sun in most any soil and tolerant of heat, cold and humidity. Can be planted in USDA zones as low as 5 and is reportedly resistant to browsing by deer.
Muhlenbergia rigens - Deer Grass - This wonderful California native can grow 4-5 feet in height and spread over 6 feet wide. Long silver-gray flower panicles arch gracefully 3 feet over the gray-green foliage. Extremely adaptable. Once established Deer Grass can go the entire summer without water, which also regulates its ultimate height. It can also tolerate regular garden water with ease, which keeps the foliage nearly evergreen. Use in mass plantings or as a specimen. Sometimes referred to as California's native replacement for Pampas Grass.
Nassella tenuissima(Stipa tenuissima) - Texas Needle Grass - A beautiful fine textured clumping grass which occurs naturally from Texas to New Mexico south through Central America to Chile. This grass forms wispy tufts to 2 ft tall and as wide of bright green thread-like leaves. In mid-summer the soft plume-like flower spikes form, rising only slightly above the foilage. Unfortunately this plant reseeds extensively in gardens that it has been planted and spreads to areas outside of these plantings. Since 2008 we no longer have sold this invasive plant!
Neyraudia reynaudiana - Burma Reed. A large upright grass that spreads slowly on short rhizomes and grows to 6 to 15 feet tall, with ultimate size dependent on cultural conditions such as soil, fertilizer and irrigation practices. It has attractive 1/2 inch thick blue-green stem culms (looking a bit like a bamboo) that have nodes spaced about every 6 inches along the culm and with 1 foot long narrow green leaves held rise upright along the stems. In late summer appear many attractive flower plumes that rise vertically well above the foliage with branchlets bearing tiny shimmering flowers attractively arching over. An attractive large upright growing grass then lends a bit of the tropics to the garden.
Oryzopsis lessoniana See Anemanthele lessoniana
Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal' - Blue Switch Grass. A deciduous warm-season narrowly upright clump-forming grass native to the American prairies. It has steely-blue upright foliage to 3-4 ft tall that turns a nice yellow color in fall and attractive airy pink-tinged flowers that rise a foot or more above the foliage in mid-summer. Plant in full sun. Tolerant of most soils and irrigation practices from dry to soggy - shorter when kept dry. Hardy into USDA zone 4.
Panicum virgatum 'Prairie Sky'- Blue Switch Grass - A deciduous warm season clump forming grass native to the American prairies. It has blue-gray upright foliage to 4-5 ft tall and attractive airy pink tinged flowers in mid-summer. 'Prairie Sky' was a selection made by Roger Gettig with very blue foliage that has proved itself in western US gardens. Plant in full sun. Tolerant of most soils and irrigation practices from dry to soggy - shorter when kept dry. Hardy into USDA zone 4. Cut back in late winter.
Pennisetum alopecuroides `Moudry' - Black Fountain Grass - This lush grass grows in a clump to 2 feet tall with rich glossy leaves 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide. The flower spikes, as they poke up 1 foot above the foliage in August, appear black. In late fall this plant turns yellow then to a straw gray in winter. Expect seedlings of this plant in an irrigated garden. Remove or allow plants to form an attractive colony - does not seed into non-irrigated areas.Plant not currently in production
Pennisetum 'Burgundy Giant' - Longwood Gardens Introduction - A large evergreen Pennisetum 5-6 ft. tall with red ribbon-like foliage and maroon flower spikes. More tropical looking than P. macrostachyum 'Rubrum.' Needs occasional water and a warm spot - Recovers slowly from even a mildly cold winter and might be better used as an annual. Introduced by Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Plant not currently in production.
Pennisetum 'Eaton Canyon' (P. 'Rubrum Compacta', 'Red Riding Hood')- Dwarf Red Fountain Grass - A smaller version of the Red Fountain Grass that grows 18 to 30 inches tall and has finer textured foliage but is not quite as red. Introduced by Magic Growers Nursery. A good fountain grass for the smaller garden or in a container. To make matters confussing this grass has recently been given the name Pennisetum 'Red Riding Hood' for marketing purposes by a large propagation nursery. As this goes agiant the will of the nursery that found this plant we will stick with the name 'Eaton Canyon'
Pennisetum 'Fairy Tails' - Evergreen Fountain Grass - An evergreen fountain grass that was discovered at John Greenlee's Pomona nursery. This plant has foliage to 4 feet tall with dark wheat colored blloms rising above the foliage in spring and summer. Plant in full sun. Height can be curtailed some by careful irrigation. Should prove hardy and evergreen to 20-25° F and possibly root hardy below this. An exciting new grass!
Pennisetum 'Fireworks' - Fireworks Fountain Grass [P x advena 'Fireworks']. A showy upright growing warm season grass to 3 to 4 feet tall with leaf blades variegated with longitudinal narrow stripes of white, green and burgundy, imparting a candy-cane-like appearance to the new foliage. As with the typical red fountain grass (Pennisetum x advena 'Rubrum') it has purple tassels that in summer rise above the foliage. The variegation fades in bright light and through the season making the variegation a little harder to see but keeping the overall color of the foliage lighter than red fountain grass. This grass, like the parent plant, has remained evergreen for us in mild winters but goes deciduous with frost and be root hardy to around 20° F.
Pennisetum orientale - Chinese Fountain Grass - A medium sized winter dormant grass to 18 in. tall with soft feathery pink flower spikes rising above the foliage from late spring through fall. Chinese Fountain Grass is a slow spreading rhizomatous grass which forms dense clumps. It resembles P. setaceum when not blooming or after blooms have aged, but at its peak the beautiful pink flowers make this grass stand out, especially if backlit. Looks best with occasional watering but will tolerate dry conditions as well. This plant does not weed out in the garden as P. setaceum does. Native to Asia Minor.
Pennisetum 'Rubrum' (P x advena'Rubrum') - Red Fountain Grass - A clumping semi-evergreen grass 4-5 ft.tall with dark burgundy-red foliage and bloom spikes. This grass seems to be completely evergreen (red) in frost free zones, but goes deciduous with frost and is root hardy to the mid-20's F. Looks best if cut back in late winter to expose new foliage. This clone seeds out very little and according to some grass taxonomists is not a Pennisetum setaceum at all but a clone of P. P. macrostachyum. It is much more controllable than P. setaceum. Drought and heat resistant. Good as a specimen or for accents. Native to Africa. [P. setaceum 'Rubrum', Hort]
Phalaris arundinacea 'Feesey's Form' ('Strawberries and Cream') - Ribbon Grass A new form of Phalaris arundinacea 'Picta' with showy pink new growth which ages to nearly pure white. This rhizomatous grass will grow 1-2 ft. tall. Due to its spreading habit and winter dormancy, the placement within the garden of this plant is very important. Plant as an understory for trees or in full sun and cut to the ground in late winter. Panicles of flowers appear in late spring to early summer. Thrives in moist conditions making it useful in waterside plantings.
Plant not currently in production
Piptochaetium fimbriatum - Pinyon Ricegrass. A very attractive perennial small clumping warm-season grass that grows with foliage to 1 to 2 feet tall with a 5-8 inch long loose panicle of long awned flowers rising above the foliage in summer. We are not aware of this plant being used in California landscapes but suggest trying this plant in dry shade gardens, though in our coastal California gardens it will likely tolerate full sun. Water sparingly if at all. Hardiness not known but likely to at least 10F.
Poa arachnifera - Texas Bluegrass - This Texas cool season native forms 12 inch tall clumps with narrow blue-green leaves. In spring the showy 2-3 ft. fluffy silvery flowers rise above the foliage. Good in most well drained soils. Can tolerate some shade. A good groundcover unmowed or mowed. This plant not currently in production.
Poa cita - Silver Tussock. Graceful dense upright clumping grass to 24 to 30 inches tall by 2 feet wide with very narrow shiny pale green colored leaves, that age to an attractive green-brown. In summer appears the arching flowering stems that rise just above the foliage having a loose open arrangement of bronze flower heads. Plant in full sun to light shade in most any soil type and irrigate occasionally to infrequently - has proven to be a low water requiring grass in many locations but could use an occasional watering in dry southern California. Hardy to at least 10 to 15°F and useful in USDA Zone 8 and above.
Poa costiniana - Australian Blue Grass - A very nice evergreen clump forming grass to 18 inches tall and as wide with long, thin, weepy silvery-green leaves. In spring the graceful inflorescence arches a foot above the foliage with delicate flowers in panicles that remain showy through the summer. Plant in full sun to part shade where it can tolerate both drought or frequent irrigation. A good plant in the border or the dry garden. Also incorrectly called P. costineata. Plant not currently in production
Rhynchelytrum neriglume - Ruby Grass - See Melinus
Sesleria autumnalis 'Fineleaf' - Autumn Moor Grass - An evergreen clumping grass that forms neat pale green hummocks (1-1 1/2 ft. tall) from which emerge tight golden flower spikes in spring that fade gracefully through summer and fall. Blades are narrow and light green with scabrous margins. Although not a spectacular flowering grass, this grasses attraction is its pleasing green color and the dainty flower spikes that dance in the wind above the foliage. A good grass for the meadow-look. Tolerates a wide range of conditions - wet to dry, sun to shade. Frost hardy. Native from northern and eastern Italy to Albania.
Sesleria caerulea - Blue Moor Grass - Evergreen clumping grass to 1 ft. tall with bicolored leaves: The upper side is a rich green; the underside a bluish-white, giving the plant a blue cast. A slow spreader. Excellent ground cover in sun and part shade. Prefers regular garden water. Native from eastern Europe in north western Russia.
Sesleria 'Campo Azul' - Campo Azul Moor Grass. A very attractive evergreen cool season grass that forms upright gray green pale clumps 18 to 24 inches tall by as wide with 1/4 inch wide gray-green leaf blades that are upright in the middle of the clump and arch over gracefully with age. From mid-spring into summer appear the tight narrow gray-green flower spikes with white anthers that rise up to nearly 3 feet tall. Based on its presumed parentage and the few years of observation in gardens, this grass seems tolerant of a wide range of conditions - moist to fairly dry conditions, sun to light shade with some protection in hotter inland locations and should also prove frost hardy down to around 0 °F and useful in gardens from USDA zones 5 and above.
Sesleria 'Greenlee' - John Greenlee's Moor Grass. An evergreen clumping blue-green grass that grows to 1 foot tall and as wide with pale purple-tinged flowers spring and summer. Tolerates a wide range of conditions - wet to dry, sun to shade. Hardy to at least 0° F and likely lower as both parents are rated to USDA Zones 4. This plant was a spontaneous seedling and is presumed to be a hybrid between Sesleria caerulea and Sesleria autumnalis. It is intermediary between these species with blue-green leaves similar to those of Sesleria caerulea but is a taller plant with longer leaves. The flowers, which rise well above the foliage, are more like those of Sesleria autumnalis with a more elongated spike but these spikes are thicker and have a rose-purple hue.
Sesleria heufleriana - Blue-green Moor Grass - This native to southeastern Europe is very similar to blue moor grass (S caerulea) but larger, taller, and a little less blue. The foliage forms neat tufted mounds to 15 in. with the upper surfaces of the leaves emerging as mostly green in spring, becoming glaucous-blue by early summer through autumn and winter. The early spring flowers are black with cream-yellow pollen sacs, held above the foliage on slender stalks. It is semi-evergreen even in colder climates. Hardy to Zone 4. This plant not currently in production.
Setaria palmifolia - Palm Grass - Large coarse evergreen grass to 6 ft. tall with an equal spread. Long broad leaves are pleated and superficially resemble palm leaves. Flower spikes emerge in warm weather and grow to 8 ft. tall. Best to remove flower spikes as this grass produces very viable seed and is a potential weed problem in cultivated areas. In drier locations Palm Grass reaches only 2-3 ft. and doesn't seem to reseed. Good for a tropical look and for cut foliage. Full sun to shade.
Sporobolus wrightii -Giant Sacaton. A tall warm season semi-evergreen native American perennial bunchgrass with gray-green leaves to 4-6 feet tall by as wide topped by attractive branched flowering stems up to 5-6 feet tall which take on a nice golden color in winter. Plant in full to part sun in most any soil type, including alkaline ones, and irrigate infrequently to not at all but looks best and grows to its full height with an occasional watering. It is evergreen in our climate and cold tolerant well below 0° F and useful in gardens down to USDA Zone 5.
Stipa elegantissima - See Austrostipa
Stipa gigantea - Giant Needle Grass - An evergreen clumping grass with narrow grey-green foliage 2-3 ft. tall with flower spikes reaching another 2-3 ft. above the plant. Plant in full sun with regular garden watering; it will take drought when established. Large plants in full flower are a spectacular sight. Flowers are good in dried arrangements.
Stipa tenuissima - See Nassella
Stipa ramosissima - See Austrostipa
Thysanolaena maxima- Tiger Grass - This tropical Asian grass looks much like a bamboo with sturdy upright culms to 6-10 feet tall and large 1 foot long by 3 inch wide leaves. Plant Tiger grass in full sun to light shade. Give ample water to keep plants lush, although plants in light shade can be irrigated less frequently, and protect from frost as this grass looks ratty when temperatures fall below freezing - roots are reportedly hardy to 15deg. F. A great plant for the tropical garden or for large pots.