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Are Ornamental Grasses Perennials? And Other Common Questions

When ornamental grasses are in their prime in landscapes across North America each fall, questions pour in to our feedback line. Do you have a question about grasses, too? Here’s a list of the most commonly asked questions about their traits, uses and growing conditions.

Contributors: Susan Martin

Q: Are the grasses I see blooming in gardens in the fall perennials?

A: Most of the grasses you notice blooming in landscapes in fall are perennials, meaning they will come back again next year. They can really enhance the structure, height and movement in a garden’s design. But to know for sure if a grass is an annual or perennial in your area, you’ll need to identify which variety it is.

Perennial grasses are ones that return on their own each year, so you only need to plant them once. An example of a hardy perennial grass is Prairie Winds® ‘Cheyenne Sky’ switch grass, pictured here. They make popular landscape plants because they are easy to grow and maintain, and mix well with many kinds of shrubs and perennials. See our whole collection of perennial grasses here.

Annual grasses can be planted in landscapes too, but more often they are grown in containers since they only last one season in most climates.
If you like them, you can replant them every year. Many annual grasses make dynamic “thrillers” in combination containers like the one you see here featuring Graceful Grasses® ‘Fireworks’ red fountain grass. See our whole collection of annual grasses here.





Q: How should I incorporate ornamental grasses into my garden? 

A: As a home gardener, you might find it easy to decide where to plant a new hydrangea or set a pretty pot of annual flowers, but figuring out where to use ornamental grasses can be a bit more challenging. Plopping one down in the middle of your flower bed might look out of place, but add a few more by its side and it all starts to come together. We’ve put together this article showing five ways to use grasses in your garden including:

  1. As a focal point
  2. As a fall accent
  3. In the mixed border
  4. As a living screen
  5. In water gardens 






Q: Do birds and other critters like ornamental grasses?

A: If you ever get out to the country or do any hiking, you know that grasses are found are everywhere in nature. They are part of the natural ecosystem and coexist peacefully with birds, pollinators and other four-legged creatures.

Birds often use grasses for nesting material in spring and eat their seeds in fall and winter. The main role grasses play in nature is to provide a protective place for critters to hide, nest or burrow. Deer don’t typically munch on them, but rabbits might when the foliage is first emerging in spring. This usually isn’t a problem because the grass quickly outgrows their reach.  


Have more questions about ornamental grasses?

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