A Guide to the Best Ornamental Grasses: Which One’s Right for You?

Published August 2nd, 2022 by J. Berry Nursery

Good garden design is all about depth, dimension, and contrast. So, in addition to your favorite flowers and foliage, you'll want to add a few ornamental grasses into the mix.

These plants can lend an unexpected pop of color and texture, sprucing up an otherwise dull space. And, they're among the easiest to care for additions in any garden, able to thrive in most conditions and plant hardiness zones. In most cases, they're also drought resistant and unappetizing to wild animals like deer.

Want to know more?

Read on to discover the best decorative grasses for your space. Then, you'll be ready to shop for and plant them with confidence.

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

This native ornamental prairie grass offers dense mounds of fine-textured foliage that grow to 24-36 inches tall. A hardy species in USDA zones 3-8, it also serves well as a background plant, offers superb erosion control, and is both deer resistant and drought tolerant.

Showy varieties like Season to Season Standing Ovation are lovely all year round. Starting with pretty blue, upright summer foliage, attractive vertical flowers and seedheads appear in late summer. The plant then morphs into gorgeous fall foliage, with stems and leaves turning shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple. The strong form withsteads heavy rain or snow without flopping. Plus, it grows well in any soil pH. And, they're among the most commonly seen grasses in containers.

Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis)

If you're looking to add an unexpected pop of color, this ornamental grass won't disappoint. And, varieties like Gold Bar can even stand as focal points for your garden.

Maiden grass prefers full to partial sun and can grow quite large, adding great movement and texture in the garden. However, Gold Bar stays nicely compact, reaching only 4-5 feet tall and 1-1/2 to 2 feet wide. The gorgeous foliage with bands of gold on every leaf brightens garden beds and containers. Burgundy plumes appear late in the season and provide winter interest. Hardy in USDA zones 5-9.

Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)

Whether you're framing a walkway, adding a back row to your garden for texture, or selecting a centerpiece for a large area, fountain grass is sure to make an impression. And it can tolerate a variety of conditions, including full sun, partial shade, and even drought.

Smaller varieties, such as Hameln Grass, grow to between 2 and 3 feet in height and width, so you'll want to plant them well away from the rest of your garden residents. Hameln produces bright-green foliage in summer, turning a pretty golden-yellow in fall, which typically lasts well into winter for color and interest. The silvery-white flower spikes appear in late summer. Hardy in USDA zones 5-9.

Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

What's prettier than a bright pop of pink in your garden? Not much, really.

This easy to care for ornamental grass packs a powerful punch, with showstopping flower spikes that bloom from late summer into the fall. A low-maintenance perennial, this grass tolerates a wide range of soil types and conditions. Plus Gulf Muhly Grass grows to the same size as fountain grass, about 2-3 feet tall and wide, making them perfectly paired for a back row or border. Hardy to USDA zones 6-10.

Gardening with Ornamental Grasses

Are you ready to add a few ornamental grasses to your garden?

If so, be sure to bookmark this blog post or print a copy to take along while you shop. That way, you'll be sure to make it home with the ideal ornamental grass types for your landscape.

Need a little more help before making a purchase? No worries! The friendly team at J. Berry Nursery is happy to help.

Contact us or send an email to for further assistance. We're happy to offer expert advice and guidance to help turn your gardening dreams into a reality!

‹ Back

Past Performances

These previously shown stars are no longer being grown at our facility