LSU Garden News: Ornamental grasses look great in your garden and in your home decor | Home and garden
They are fairly easy to grow, have few pest and disease problems, and are an excellent choice for sustainable Louisiana landscapes.
A group of medium to large plants can cover large areas, providing an effective privacy screen.
Right now, ornamental grasses are in full swing, putting on a show with eye-catching columns.
Appearing in late summer and blooming in late fall, these columns have become fashionable for interior decor. Large sets of pampas grass poles sell for more than $60 online. So why not grow your own?
Plant ornamental grasses in well-drained soil in full sun for best growth and quality. These herbs can tolerate some shade, but produce more flowers in full sun. Established plantings are highly drought tolerant and attract wildlife.
Ornamental grasses grow either by spreading or clumping, the clumping variety being less aggressive.
Grasses vary in size and height depending on the species. Some, like pampas, can reach 15 feet or more tall, while others, like native muhly grasses, remain more compact.
Fertilization is rarely needed, although it can be applied lightly in the spring when new growth occurs and if soil tests indicate a deficiency. Cut ornamental grasses just before new spring growth to remove dead blades.
Pampas grass for decking is easy to install and durable. The leaf blades typically grow 6 to 8 feet long and are very sharp; They can cut you off. The flower plumes grow to 3 feet tall, are silvery white and very showy. Both male and female plants produce plumes, but the females are more impressive.
These columns make a wonderful cut flower that can be dried and kept for some time if properly prepared. Pampas grass leaf blades are sharp, so always wear long sleeves, long pants, and work gloves to prevent cuts.
Harvesting begins at midday after the dew dries. Cut the grass stems to the desired length, about 3 feet from the stem with the shaft. Remove all leaf blades. Gather the columns into bunches and hang them to dry for about three weeks. Once dried, to help maintain the plumes and prevent the feather-light seeds from dispersing, spray them with a light coat of hairspray or flower protectant.
Before planting pampas grass, consider the size of the area. This plant needs a lot of space to grow. Native to South America, it grows up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Can be aggressive. Also remember that sharp blades of grass can be a mess to clean up in the winter.
Some ornamental grasses, such as lovegrass, are good for erosion control and are low-maintenance options for levees and mountainous areas. Lovegrass is a low-growing, clumping grass that produces white and red plumes from summer through fall.
Other ornamental grass recommendations from retired LSU AgCenter Extension specialist Allen Owings include reed grass (calamagrostis), weeping lovegrass (eragrostis), maiden grass (miscanthus), switchgrass (pancium), fountain grass (pennisetum) and muhlgrass (muhlenbergia).
Maidengrass, fountain grass, muhly grass, and switchgrass are the most popular in Louisiana. Some virgin grasses are zebra grass, silver arrow grass, and slender virgin grass.
Purple fountainweed, like the Louisiana Superplant Fireworks variety, is a variety with red leaves. It can be an annual in north Louisiana or a perennial in south Louisiana.
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