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  • Writer's pictureBath Garden Center

A Guide to Perennial Grasses for Zones 3, 4, & 5

Grasses have more uses than you might think! When planted strategically, grasses have many uses. They can create different kinds of spaces and attract birds. Grasses can be a coverage plant to fill empty spaces and can act as borders. For example, all grasses can be planted in a circle or half moon arrangement with a private seating area in the middle. Below are some useful facts about the varieties we have available.

Dwarf Zebra Grass “Little Zebra”

A dwarf variety of ornamental grass that derives its name from its horizontal stripes and stiff blades. Arching habit. Bronze-pink plumes in late summer. Grows 3-4’ tall and 2-3’ wide. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Hardy to zone 5.

Blue Fescue “Elijah Blue”

A durable and long-lasting ornamental grass. Plumes tower over blue mounds with buff-colored seed heads. Can be used as an edging plant or can be planted in masses anywhere ground cover is needed. Blue Fescue should be planted in full sun and well-draining soil. It will tolerate dry, infertile soils, and is drought tolerant once established. Grows 6-10” tall and 6-8” wide. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Hardy to zone 4.

Northern Sea Oats

A native North American grass that tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. Prefers full sun to part shade, and can tolerate being planted in a variety of soils ranging from dry to moist. Attractive seed heads resemble flat oats, while the foliage resembles bamboo. Grows 3-4’ tall and 13-30” wide. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Hardy to zone 5.

Mexican Feather Grass

This tender perennial forms a mound of fine, green blades bearing yellow flowers that turn into tan plumes by late summer. They have a very soft and silky appearance, and are drought tolerant once established. Plant in full sun. Hardy to zone 6.

Tall Switch Grass

Forms a tall, narrow mound of olive-green blades. In the fall, foliage turns yellow. Performs best in moist, well-draining soils. This variety of perennial grass makes a wonderful addition to any xeric landscape. They grow 3-4’ tall and 2-3’ wide. Plant in full sun. Hardy to zone 4.

Maiden Grass

Named for its graceful rounded form and delicate narrow foliage. Exhibits cream-colored plumes in September and October, with foliage that turns a copper-red color. Grows 4-6’ tall and 3-6’ wide. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Hardy to zone 5.

Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass

This reed grass has a vertical habit and provides contrast to low shrubs and perennials. Often used in naturalized areas. Its mature size is directly related to the amount of moisture it receives. Feathery, light pink fronds form in June and fade to gold in the fall. The seeds are sterile, which means the plant won’t self seed. Grows 3-6’ tall and 18-36” wide. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Hardy to zone 3.

Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass

This is an ornamental form of Western native grass with tall upright blades. Seed heads turn blonde as they age. They hold their straight shape and are displayed high above the foliage through winter. Will tolerate moderate to dry conditions. Grows 30-36'' high, 30-36'' wide. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Hardy to zone 4.

Blue Oat Grass

Blue oat grass is commonly domesticated in western Montana. It is a great choice for adding nice accents to a landscape. Tan seed heads appear in the early summer and shoot up above the foliage, adding extra interest. In colder climates this plant is semi-evergreen, and in warmer zones it is evergreen. Grows 24” tall. Plant in full sun to part shade. Hardy to zone 4.

Miniature/Dwarf Fountain Grass

An extremely adaptable, small, and low maintenance grass. Ideal for rock gardens. It is very suitable for border fronts and the plumes can be used in fresh and dried flower arrangements. Grows 11” tall and10” wide. Plant in full sun. Hardy to zone 5.

Hardy Pampas Grass

Gigantic grass that has an upright, arching habit. The foliage turns shades of orange, tan, beige and purple in the fall. The feathery plumes appear in late summer. Flowers are silvery with a hint of purple and fade to white in the fall. This plant is deer resistant and drought tolerant. Grows 10-14' tall and 4-6' wide. Plant in full sun to partial shade. Hardy to zone 5.


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