These Grasses Are More Than Ornamental – A Few of Our Faves for Fall!

Marrazzo’s Guide to Eye-Catching Fall Ornamental Grasses: Planting and Winter Care

As summer gracefully exits and autumn’s warm hues begin to wash over the landscape, gardeners are presented with a new canvas of colors and textures. Ornamental grasses take center stage during this seasonal transition, introducing movement, drama, and an air of sophistication to gardens. At Marrazzo’s, we’re delighted to present a curated selection of ornamental grasses that truly shine in the fall. Additionally, we’re pleased to offer our expert insights on planting and winter care to ensure your garden remains vibrant year-round.

1. Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’ (Porcupine Grass)*

Even before its stunning fall transformation, ‘Strictus’ captures attention with its distinctive zebra-striped leaves. When late summer arrives, this grass adorns itself with coppery plumes that stand out against its green and gold foliage. Plant ‘Strictus’ in well-draining soil under full sun, and establish a regular watering routine during its initial growth period. Once it’s established, it can withstand periods of drought. As winter approaches, cut the grass down to a few inches above the ground in late winter or early spring to encourage fresh growth.

2. Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ (Purple Fountain Grass)*

Adding a touch of elegance to fall gardens, ‘Rubrum’ boasts graceful, purple-hued plumes that sway gently in the autumn breeze. With its captivating transformation, this grass shifts from green to shades of deep purple, adding richness to the landscape. Place it in well-drained soil under full sun for optimal growth. During establishment, maintain consistent watering. Once mature, it exhibits a degree of drought tolerance. In preparation for winter, trim the grass in late winter, leaving a few inches of growth to rejuvenate the plant.

3. Pennisetum setaceum ‘Sky Rocket’ (Fountain Grass ‘Sky Rocket’)*

‘Sky Rocket’ stands tall as a beacon of fall beauty with its stunning burgundy-red foliage and cream-colored plumes. The juxtaposition of colors adds a sense of drama to the garden. This grass thrives in a variety of soil types and can tolerate both wet and dry conditions. Plant it in a location that receives full sun to light shade. As winter approaches, consider trimming the grass in early spring to encourage fresh growth, although leaving it standing throughout the winter can provide visual interest.

4. Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ (Hameln Fountain Grass)*

Compact and charming, ‘Hameln’ Fountain Grass offers a delightful fall display with its fluffy cream-colored plumes that gracefully arch over its green foliage. It flourishes in well-draining soil and can tolerate a range of conditions. Plant it in full sun for the most vibrant fall colors. In late winter, trim the grass to a few inches above the ground to make way for new growth in the coming season.

5. Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (Feather Reed Grass)

‘Karl Foerster’ is a favorite among gardeners for its upright growth habit and feathery plumes that turn golden in the fall. This grass is versatile and can be grown in both moist and well-drained soil, making it suitable for a range of garden styles. Plant in full sun to light shade, and provide regular watering during its establishment. While this grass can be left standing through the winter for visual interest, consider cutting it back in early spring to encourage fresh growth.

Winterizing Your Ornamental Grasses:

Preparing your ornamental grasses for the winter months is vital to ensure their continued health and vigor. Here are some winter care tips:

  1. Pruning: In late winter or early spring, before new growth emerges, prune your grasses to a few inches above the ground. This helps maintain a tidy appearance and allows room for new shoots.
  2. Mulching: After pruning, consider adding a layer of mulch around the base of the plants. Mulch acts as insulation, safeguarding the roots from extreme cold.
  3. Division: Every few years, consider dividing larger grass clumps to promote healthier growth. Fall, when the grasses are going dormant, is an ideal time for this task.
  4. Monitoring Moisture: While most ornamental grasses can tolerate some dryness, it’s crucial to monitor soil moisture during the winter. Water during dry spells to prevent excessively dry soil.

As autumn unfolds its captivating array of colors, ornamental grasses command attention, weaving their magic into the garden tapestry. Whether it’s the rustle of their leaves or the breathtaking hues they unveil, these grasses turn gardens into works of art. With strategic planting and attentive care, you can revel in their enchantment throughout fall and beyond. At Marrazzo’s, we’re dedicated to helping you create a garden that continues to inspire, even as the seasons change.

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