Ornamental Grasses: Beautiful Low Maintenance Plants Bring Style and Color to the Garden

Colored Ornamental Grasses are a good choice for a low maintenance garden. They are mostly drought resistant, and like herbs, generally do not attract pests or disease.

There are more than 9000 species of ornamental grass with some that grow quickly and happily on steep banks, in poor soil, in containers, in shade and in full sun. It is possible to find the right one to create a special feature or to provide eyecatching accents, whatever garden or outdoor living space is available.

4 Colored Ornamental Garden Grasses

  • Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)This is top of the list because of its delicate and beautiful pink plumes. Muhly grass can be found growing wild in rocky or sandy areas in full sun, as well as in forests. In the garden it is enjoys being in well drained soil, in full sun where the light can show off the colour to its best. It is a clumping grass that grows up to 3 feet tall and fans out to about 3 feet wide. Plant 3 or 4 together for a stunning effect, leaving enough space between them for their full spread. Alternatively, they are easy to grow in containers which can be grouped at the edge of a sunny patio.

  • Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) This plant has shiny leaves that look like straps, and grows in clumps. As if this wasn’t enough, the plant produces pale star shaped flowers from June to September which are followed by dark blue-black fleshy fruit. Stylish and neat, Black Mondo Grass grows to about 8 inches tall and spreads about 11 inches wide. It will thrive in full or partial sun and is drought tolerant. Place in beds with golden or green leafy plants for contrast, or grow in elegant containers against a white wall. Black Mondo Grass will also grow in shared containers.

  • Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa) has willowy stems with leaves that spread out. Each stem gracefully leans forward onto the one beneath it, creating an interesting layered effect. The two most attractive types are firstly the Aureola which has bright golden leaves with a thin strip of green down the middle. The leaves turn red at the end of the summer. The second, and more hardy, is Albostriata which has a silvery grey and white variegated leaf. They grow up to 12 inches tall and spread out to 24 inches. Japanese Forest Grass needs well drained, fertile soil and will grow well in shade. Plant where the cascades can be seen to best effect – at the top of a wall, or in a tall container. It creates wonderful contrasts with deeper green plants and it easy to grow requiring little attention. Japanese Forest Grass loses its leaves in the winter and the plant does need protection from the cold.

  • Sioux Blue Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) is a tall and slender plant with striking blue-green foliage which turns yellow into the winter. Long spears of pale gold feathery flowers can increase the height of the plant to as much as 5 feet. Drought resistant, and it will tolerate poor soil. Grow as an accent border plant or in a container to attract bees to the flowers, and songbirds that eat the seeds.