August plant of the month
Elegant ornamental grasses
Ornamental grasses include a diverse group of plants, which have adapted to almost all conditions. Whether your garden is sunny, shady, dry or damp there’s a grass to suit your space.
Ornamental grasses in the family Poacaea – as well as their relatives the sedges (Cyperaceae) and rushes (Juncaceae) - are divided into warm season and cool season grasses, depending on their preferred growing conditions and the time of year that they come into growth.This month warm season grasses are flowering and will add beautiful texture and movement to your garden. They are excellent companion plants and will complement almost everything else you’re growing, adding detail, height and texture with their fine leaves and airy, delicate flower spikes. Warm season grasses include Panicum, Miscanthus and Pennisetum varieties. They come into growth in late spring and flower from mid-summer through to autumn. They are invaluable for providing interest over a very long period of time – from the young greenery of late spring to the elegant flower plumes of summer through to the dried seed heads and coloured foliage of autumn. Warm season grasses often stand throughout the winter, providing beautiful silhouettes when little else may be happening in your garden.
A great example of a warm season grass (which also adds year-round interest) is the Lilyturf Nigrescens Architectural Plant. With bell-like flowers in spring and beautiful purple/black berries in Autumn, this striking grass retains its leaves in winter too. Needing partial sun and being drought and cold weather tolerant (down to -15C), the Lilyturf is a low-maintenance way to add interest to borders or patios.
The stunning Red Star Cordyline and Verde Cordyline also provide interest all year round and, like the Lilyturf, they’re drought tolerant. While they will need protecting with plant fleece when temperatures dip below 0C, they looking stunning when planted with perennials and can grow to an impressive 3 metres in height.
Visit your local Homebase store for our full range or browse selected ornamental grasses online, now.
- Grasses work very well in pots, where you can provide the conditions they like best. Choose a well-draining compost for warm season grasses. Position the pot in full sun and water regularly as the pots can easily dry out.
- If you have deciduous grasses, cut them back to a couple of inches above the ground in late winter or early spring, just before their new growth starts. For evergreen grasses, just comb through the fo-liage with your hands to remove any dead leaves.
There are lots of plants that work well with your ornamental grasses and the following are particularly successful:
- Bergamot (Monarda didyma)
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’)
- Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’
- Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Gaura lindheimeri
- Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’
- Herb Fennel
- Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile and other varieties)
- Liatris spicata
- Macedonian Scabious (Knautia macedonica)
- Perovskia ‘Blue Spire’
- Turkish Sage (Phlomis russeliana)
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