20 Ornamental Grasses With Dramatic Appearances & Interesting Textures

20 Ornamental Grasses With Dramatic Appearances & Interesting Textures

Lawns are a staple of suburban home landscapes, but their monotony can always use a little bit of variety.

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Luckily, there are plenty of ornamental grasses that can both add visual interest and break up the monotony—and they're often much easier to grow than real grass!

Ornamental grasses are also useful for areas where foot traffic is heavy. Unlike many other plants, these varieties don't mind having soil trampled on all day long.

We've collected 20 ornamental grasses that will brighten any yard or garden bed with their unique textures and colors:

1. Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima)

Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) is native to the southwestern United States, where it forms clumps of bright green, feathery foliage that spreads to about 2 feet wide.

The plant makes a great addition to rock gardens and xeriscaping projects because it requires little water or fertilizer. It also grows well in containers and can be used as an accent plant with its tall stalks and fern-like leaves.

Mexican feather grass can also add some drama as a landscape feature. The plant's narrow green blades are topped by clusters of small pinkish flowers in late spring or early summer that turn into tiny brown seeds by autumn.


2. Zebra Grass (Miscanthus Sinensis 'Zebrinus')

Zebra grass is a clumping grass with deep green leaves and feathery plumes that can grow up to 6 feet tall. It's also medium-height grass, which means it's not too short or too tall for your landscape.

The best part about zebra grass? It's drought-tolerant and perennial!

If you're looking for ornamental grass that will add texture and color to your yard without taking up too much space, then look no further than zebra grass!

3. Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens)

As you may have guessed by the name, blue oat grass is a perennial grass. It’s also drought-tolerant and grows in well-drained soil.

Blue oat grass has an upright growth habit with leaves that are narrow and stiff at the base and wider at the tips. The blades of this foliage turn purple to red in fall, which makes it great for adding some color to your yard when other plants are taking a break from their green displays.

Blue oat grass is native to Europe and Asia but is grown across North America in gardens as well as on roadsides where it acts as a stabilizer on slopes prone to erosion.

It's used widely in rock gardens because of its ability to withstand harsh conditions while still providing interest throughout fall when most other plants aren't showing much color yet (or ever).


4. Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)

Mondo grass is an evergreen grass that grows to a height of 3 to 4 feet and spreads anywhere between 1 and 2 feet. It is one of the most popular ornamental grasses in North America and can grow well in the sun or shade, which makes it suitable for many garden settings.

This plant is drought tolerant and will thrive in soil that contains good drainage as well as in soils with poor drainage. It prefers moist soil but also grows well in dry conditions because it has rhizomes (underground stems) that store water.

5. Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha)

This grass is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. It can grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall and bears loose clusters of small green flowers from April through May.

It requires full sun or partial shade, and tolerates drought and sandy soil, but isn't the best choice for a wet spot.

While it's not particularly cold hardy, it does well in USDA zones 4–7 where there's adequate moisture throughout the growing season.

6. Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum')

Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum') is a striking ornamental grass with purple-red foliage that turns green as it grows. It reaches a height of 6-8 feet and thrives in full sun to partial shade, growing best in moderate temperatures with moist soil.

The plant has an upright growth habit and should be fertilized moderately during the growing season when new growth starts to appear.

A perennial grass native to South Africa, Purple Fountain Grass is easy to care for and can be planted as an accent or mass planting along borders or walkways where its dramatic appearance will make an impression on all who see it!


7. Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana)

Pampas Grass is a clump-forming perennial that can grow up to 8 feet tall.

It's native to South America, but it requires full sun and well-drained soil in order to grow well and flower.

This grass produces long, arching leaves with a fine texture that get longer as the plant matures, eventually forming dense groups of upright branches

In late summer through fall, pampas grass produces large plumes of creamy white flowers that are almost 12 inches wide!

8. Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

Muhly grass is a warm-season perennial that grows in the southern United States. Its green leaves have silvery tips, and it reaches a height of about 2 to 5 feet.

This grass likes full sun and well-drained soil, so make sure to plant it near your garden's water source where the roots can access more moisture than other parts of the garden.

Muhly grass will grow in USDA zones 5 to 9 and prefers sandy loam or loamy soils with good drainage and moderate fertility levels. This versatile species makes an excellent choice for mixed borders because it thrives in dry conditions as well as wet ones!


9. Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

Native to the United States, this hardy perennial grass grows in full sun to partial shade. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and can grow up to six feet tall.

The northern sea oats have a beautiful, large panicle of grass-like leaves that turn golden yellow in fall.

The plant produces small white flowers in late summer, which attract bees and butterflies. This perennial is easy to grow and requires little maintenance once established.

10. Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra)

Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) is a clump-forming ornamental grass with arching, deep green leaves that are soft to the touch.

It has a graceful, airy appearance. The plant grows to 3 feet tall in full sun and prefers moist soil.

It is hardy in zones 5 through 9. The plant produces small, yellow flowers that are attractive to bees and butterflies.

11. Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)

Blue fescue (Festuca glauca) is an evergreen perennial that reaches about 1 foot in height. It has blue-green leaves and produces small, golden-yellow flowers in late spring.

The plant prefers full sun and moist soil. It is hardy USDA zones 4 through 9.


12. Maiden Grass (Miscanthus Sinensis 'Gracillimus')

Maiden grass (Miscanthus Sinensis) is an ornamental grass that can be used as a tall accent plant or on low ground cover.

It is hardy in zones 4-9, grows up to 3 feet tall and wide, and blooms in spring, summer, and fall with light green foliage turning gold in winter. It prefers full sun to partial shade.

It has silvery-blue foliage and wispy plumes turn golden brown in fall. The large, silvery-blue plumes make a dramatic show when the grasses are massed or used as a specimen plant. A graceful, arching habit adds to its allure.

13. Ravenna Grass (Erianthus ravennae)

Ravenna grass is a very low-maintenance perennial that requires little attention to thrive. It’s drought-tolerant, too! This plant thrives in full sun or partial shade and looks great in both landscapes and containers.

Ravenna grass is also an excellent choice for erosion control thanks to its deep roots and rhizomes that help stabilize the soil. As an added bonus, it can be planted alongside water features like ponds and fountains.


14. Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Red Baron')

As its name suggests, the Japanese Blood Grass has a vibrant red color.

Japanese Blood Grass is native to Asia and does best in warm climates like those found in Texas or Florida.

It's an evergreen perennial that grows fast enough to be used as a ground cover in warmer areas of your garden.

Impatient gardeners may want to grow their Japanese Blood Grasses indoors under lights to avoid stressing them out by winter conditions.

15. Blue Gamma (Bouteloua gracilis)

This blue-green grass looks like a short, arching shrub. It grows to about 3 feet tall and spreads to about 2 feet wide, forming low mounds that look great in the landscape.

Blue gamma grass is best used as a backdrop for taller plants or as a mass planting near water features, or ponds. It can also be used as an accent plant against fences or stone walls.

Blue gamma prefers moist soil and partial shade, but it tolerates drought conditions quite well once established. It's also deer-resistant.


16. Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula)

Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) is a prairie grass that is excellent for many different types of landscapes.

It’s drought-tolerant and can thrive in wet areas, dry areas, sunny areas, or shaded areas.

Sideoats grama also tolerates acidic soils as well as alkaline. This plant has light green leaves with a reddish brown underside, making it one of the prettiest ornamental grasses available today!

17. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is mainly an upright grass, but it can also be mounding. It's a warm-season grass and it grows in full sun or part shade.

Switchgrass can grow up to 6 feet tall, so it's great for providing a lot of height in the garden without getting out of hand.

Plus, since switchgrass has such unique leaves, you'll have something new to look at all season long!

This plant would make a great addition to any garden with its striking foliage and ability to thrive in many different conditions.

18. Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)

Fountain Grass is native to the Mediterranean region and has lush, grassy foliage that makes it a great choice for use in xeriscaping.

The plant is low maintenance and drought tolerant, making it perfect for container gardens or erosion control.

It is a great choice for those looking for ornamental grass that will add color and height to any landscape.


19. Chinese Fountain Grass (Pennisetum Orientale)

Chinese fountain grass is a perennial grass that is known for its silvery hue to its leaves. This plant can grow up to 7 feet tall, but some people may find it easier to control it by pruning it down.

It thrives in full sun or partial shade and can grow well in dry conditions, making this an ideal ornamental grass for areas where there is little rainfall.

Chinese fountain grass grows best in USDA zones 5-9, so if you live outside those zones you should consider growing another ornamental grass instead.

20. Giant Sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii)

Another great ornamental grass for the desert is the giant sacaton, which grows up to 5 feet tall and has light green leaves.

This plant is drought-tolerant and can survive with little water, making it ideal for areas where there is less rainfall.

It thrives in full sun or partial shade and can grow well in dry conditions, making this an ideal ornamental grass for areas where there is little rainfall.

Deer don't seem attracted to this plant either, which means you don't have to worry about them eating your beautiful plants!

This evergreen grass has deep green, narrow leaves that grow in dense clumps. Its seed heads are bright yellow and showy. The Giant Sacaton is drought tolerant and hardy in USDA zones 8-10.



We hope this list has inspired you to create a uniquely beautiful space with ornamental grasses.

Whether your preference is bold or delicate, the important thing is to choose the right plant for your needs.

Give each of these ornamental grasses a try and see which ones work best in your yard!

And as always if you need any help with your yard, don't hesitate to contact ShrubHub's plant experts today!


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