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Ornamental Grasses That Grow in Shade

 8 Ornamental Grasses 

Most ornamental grasses grow best in full sun (at least 8 hours of bright sunlight per day), but some increase in low light. The following 8 easy-to-grow ornamental types of grass for shade can be planted on the north side of your home, under the canopy of a large tree, and in areas that receive shade most of the day. These grasses almost effortlessly brighten shady areas of your landscape, where they add instant texture and movement year-round.

1. Northern Sea Oats

Prized for their shiny oat-like seed heads, northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) are at their prime in fall. The broad, slightly rotting leaf blades turn bronze with the first frost and the seed heads take on a coppery maroon color. Dried seed heads add music to the garden as the wind moves through them. Once established, northern sea oat can tolerate both drought and wet conditions. It will freely self-sow; Remove them in late fall if you don't want to sow the seeds to other parts of the landscape. It has good deer resistance.

2. Japanese Forest Grass

Curved stems and foliage give Japanese forest grass (Hakonegloa magra) the appearance of a flowing stream. Create a layered arrangement by combining 5 to 7 plants in a planting bed. Japanese forest grass grows in lush, multi-layered clumps and spreads slowly. Its medium green leaves turn bright orange in autumn. The cultivar 'Aureola' has eye-catching chartreuse foliage in spring and summer.

3. Feather Reed Grass

Both swamp and shade do not inhibit feather reed grass (Calamacrostis arundinacea). It has a vase-like shape and airy pink flowers in late summer and early fall. A clump-forming grass, it spreads slowly in average soils and quickly in wet areas. Watch it closely to make sure it doesn't spread too aggressively. Feather reed grass has a strong upright growth habit, making it an excellent choice for creating a living screen for privacy.

4. Golden Wood Millet

A beacon in the shade garden, golden tree millet (Milium effusum 'Aureum') has vibrant chartreuse foliage. Its ribbon-like leaves give the cluster-forming plant a casual look. Expect it to spread slowly over time when grown in rich, well-drained soil. Shade is essential for this ornamental grass; Its leaves wilt and turn brown in the harsh afternoon sunlight.

5. Tufted Hairgrass

Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) is aptly named. Its thin leaf blades grow in loose clumps. Clusters of blades bend every which way to give the plant a whimsical, casual look. Silky flower spikes rise like a soft cloud over the plant in summer and last until fall. Tufted hair grass grows best in humus-rich, moist wet soil.

6. Bottlebrush grass

Bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix) is one of the few native types of grass that is at home in woodland. Bottlebrush grass is named for its small green flowers. The flowers appear in summer and resemble small bottle brushes. Flower spikes rise above the foliage and are erect in mid-autumn. Bottlebrush grass grows best in nutrient-rich, moist soil. It self-seeds but rarely becomes a weed.

7. Blue fescue

This short, tall grass makes a tough edging plant. Blue fescue (Festuca glauca) has a hedgehog-like appearance, with upright leaves forming a tight clump. This ornamental grass takes on a bluish-green color in partial shade; Plants grown in full sun have a more pronounced blue color. Blue fescue does best in well-drained and dry soil; It wilts in moist soil. Considered a short-lived perennial, it typically lives for 2 to 3 years.

8. Blue oat grass (Helicotrichon sempervirens)

Blue oat grass is similar to blue fescue but significantly more prominent. Its spiky, mound-like shape is a striking presence in the garden. Use blue oat grass as a focal point or plant several together to visually divide a space. More green than blue when planted in shade, this ornamental grass maintains its foliage well into fall in most areas. Blue oat grass grows best in well-drained or dry soil; It does not grow well in wet planting sites.

The grass looks for shade

Extend the definition of grasses to grass-like plants and many other species that cut shade. At the top of the list: sedges (Carex spp .). Native to the woodlands and thickets of North America, sedges are typically low-growing plants with smooth, curved, evergreen leaf blades. Clump-forming plants thrive in partial or full shade and in various soils. There are many sedge varieties for the garden, and most are hardy in zones 3-9.

Another grass that makes an appearance is mondo grass (Ophiopogon spp.). This member of the lily family has broad dark green or blackish-purple blades that curve toward the ground. It produces clumps 1 foot tall and wide and is hardy in zones 6-9.


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