Plant low-growing fescue and sedge for ornamental grasses that thrive in a variety of conditions

Plant low-growing fescue and sedge for ornamental grasses that thrive in a variety of conditions

When we envision ornamental grasses, we might first think of tall grasses with seed heads that blow in the breeze, or tall stems with feathery tops.

These are certainly beautiful grasses that add movement and color to a garden space, but a whole other group of ornamental grasses are low growing and ideal for places with moist soil or shade.

And if you’ve been meaning to move away from using layers of bark mulch, try these herbs to create a green space under perennials, trees and shrubs. They can also be great for planting in problem areas that are difficult to reach with a lawn mower or even places where things don’t tend to grow.

Grasses, fescue and sedge

Japanese forest grass is a clumping grass that grows 12 to 18 inches tall. This species has a yellow-green color on the leaf and can lighten a partially shaded spot. Another advantage is that Japanese forest grass turns a reddish color in the fall and is hardy to zone 5.

There are native plants known as blue-eyed weeds that are not really weeds and are hardy to zone 4. These plants grow 12 to 18 inches tall and like moist, well-drained soil. This species grows small white flowers that butterflies love.

Then there is blue fescue, such as Elijah Blue which grows 12 inches tall with a steely blue tint. This species prefers well-drained soil and does not mind full sun.

Low-growing ornamental grasses of the genus Carex, commonly known as sedges, are also great choices. Papyrus plants can grow in wet or dry soil and grow up to 12 inches tall. A variety called Ever Gold grows with colorful blades.

Some sedges spread, which works well to fill the space between plants as well, such as the Pennsylvania sedge. This is hardy to zone 4 and loves moist, shaded areas.

A question about the eggplant plant that does not produce many fruits

Q: This was my first year trying to grow graphite eggplant. I started them as seeds indoors but then in a new raised bed right after Memorial Day. I got one fruit in August but the smaller plant stopped producing flowers… What did I do wrong? – Alison, in Hyde Park

A: It has been a rainy summer and eggplant likes hot, dry conditions. Sometimes, the best way to grow eggplant in our climate is in raised beds where you’ll get more warmth in the soil or to grow eggplant in containers.

If you grow them in containers, place them in full sun and keep them well watered, but make sure the soil is warm.

Try some of the smaller fruit varieties, such as Fairy Tale, which has long, thin fruits and tends to produce more eggplants faster.

Listener question about how and when to transplant peonies

Q: I have six white peonies at a headstone in Essex Junction. The last couple of years, the peonies have not been amazing. Can I dig the bulbs out of the ground and somehow rejuvenate them in the soil? -Gary, Essex Junction

A: This is a good time to plant peonies, because it has been mostly light fall. First, find a perfectly sunny location to move them to and already dig the holes in it.

Next, dig up your peony plants, getting as much of the root system as possible. You may see that some of the roots already have divisions that you can remove to create some new plants. Then move the large block to the new hole. It is very important not to plant the crown less than 2 inches deep in the hole; Doing this will prevent the peony from flowering.

Keep your peony well watered in the fall and into November, even after all the foliage has disappeared. The roots are still growing and will appreciate continued watering. We hope that next year your peony will bloom again.

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