You are here

Ornamental Grasses for the Midsouth Landscape

Filed Under:
Publication Number: P2532
View as PDF: P2532.pdf

An ornamental grass landscape design including different textures and heights.

Ornamental grasses with their variety of form, color, texture, and size add diversity and dimension to a landscape. Not many other groups of plants can boast attractiveness during practically all seasons. The only time they could be considered not to contribute to the beauty of the landscape is the few weeks in the early spring between cutting back the old growth of the warm-season grasses until the sprouting of new growth. From their emergence in the spring through winter, warm-season ornamental grasses add drama, grace, and motion to the landscape unlike any other plants.

One of the unique and desirable contributions ornamental grasses make to the landscape is their sound. Anyone who has ever been in a pine forest on a windy day is aware of the ethereal music of wind against pine foliage. The effect varies with the strength of the wind and the season, from the rustling of a slight summer breeze to the sharp, crisp sound of brisk winter winds bending the dry seedheads and foliage. Light adds to the musical display. Some grasses come into their glory when backlit by the setting sun. You can lengthen this display into the night by adding outdoor lighting.

Planting grasses near water, where light, sound, and wind is reflected and amplified, is another way to maximize the dramatic impact in the landscape. For an example of a design plan for a small water garden, see Figure 1.

An example of a site plan for a sunny landscape in the fall season that is centered around a miniature pond and includes small-scale varied planting.
Figure 1. Site Plan 1.

True grasses make up a large group of monocots (Liliopsida) within the Gramineae or Poaceae family. There are approximately 10,000 species of grasses. Although they may seem similar, grasses vary greatly, ranging from cool season to warm season grasses, from woody to herbaceous, and from annuals to long-lived perennials.

This variation has resulted in five recognized subfamilies within Poaceae. They are Arundinoideae, a unique mix of woody and herbaceous grass species; Bambusoideae, the bamboos; Chloridoideae, warm-season herbaceous grasses; Panicoideae, also warm-season herbaceous grasses; and Pooideae, a cool-season subfamily.

Their habitats also vary. Grasses are found across the globe, including in Antarctica. They have a strong presence in prairies, like those in the Great Plains, and savannas, like those in southern Africa. It is important to recognize these natural characteristics when using grasses for ornament, since they determine adaptability and management within a landscape or region, as well as invasive potential.

Several grasses are cultivated for forage, turf, ornamental, and wildlife benefits. Although the focus of this publication is ornamental grasses, these grasses may serve wildlife in the landscape as well. In addition, native ornamental grasses may add natural heritage value to a landscape.

Grasses can be broadly grouped as herbaceous or woody. Even though grass-like ornamentals, such as Liriope spp., Lomandra spp., Ophiopogon spp., and close grass relatives, such as the sedges (Cyperaceae) and rushes (Junaceae) can be included in the general category of “ornamental grasses,” they are not true grasses and are not discussed in this publication.

Using Ornamental Grasses in Landscape Design

Beauty is reason enough to use grasses in the landscape, but grasses can also be useful. If a landscape has a special need, an ornamental grass probably can fill that need. Whether you need a ground cover, a screen, a specimen plant, or a container plant, you have many choices of grasses to fill those needs. The comments section of the tables at the end of this publication gives specific landscape features for each grass.

Grasses can attract wildlife by providing food, nesting, and cover. Grasses in combination with other perennials or annuals can add to the layers of vegetation that attract wildlife by providing a transition or bridge between the woods and the lawn’s edge. The larger grasses can function as outdoor room dividers, directing and controlling traffic or movement through the garden. Larger grasses can act as subtle backdrops for showier other plants, and even as windbreaks. Smaller grasses can be ground covers, container plants, edging, and erosion control. Both large and small can fill multiple duties, such as specimen, erosion control, foundation plant, and wildlife habitat. See Figure 2 for an example of an attractive corner planting that incorporates ornamental grass.

An example of a second design for a sunny, fall landscape that involves an island bed with small trees, borders, and varied ornamental grasses.
Figure 2. Site Plan 2.

Design and Selection Tips for Ornamental Grasses

Combining different grasses, or grasses with shrubs, flowers, or other ornamentals, can be both daunting and fun—there are so many choices! The only limiting factor could be local availability. Thankfully, as grasses have become more popular, availability has increased. More and more garden centers and nurseries have a wide selection. If you cannot find a particular grass at a local garden center or nursery, search online for mail order nurseries. You can find many other sources using Internet search engines.

When combining grasses with other ornamentals, consider using plants with bold, coarse textured foliage to offset the feathery, mounding form and soft texture of certain other grasses. For example, combine muhly grass (Muhlenbergia) with the large, boldly-colored foliage of Tropicana, or Bengal Tiger cannas, Lime Ginger or Black Magic elephant ears, or any banana plant around a pool or water garden. Add a few narrow-leaf evergreen shrubs for winter interest to contrast with the neutral color of the dormant grass, and you have a planting that is attractive through all seasons with little leaf litter to get into the water.

Ornamental grasses adapt themselves well to many situations, sliding easily into beds and borders with many other annuals or perennials. Grasses with their muted colors and graceful shapes can serve as the anchor to “set off” their neighbors. Using grasses with sedums such as Autumn Joy and the orange coneflower Rudbeckia fulgida Ait. is a classic combination. Purple coneflower, coreopsis, daylilies, and a host of other perennials combine well with grasses.

When selecting a grass, consider the mature size and shape. Many grasses can overpower their weaker, less robust companions. Proper accommodation of their size when selecting the site prevents the cost of renting a backhoe to remove the overgrown giant later. Be aware of the fall color, if any, and the flowering season and color to know if the grass will complement neighboring plants. Consider ease of maintenance when making a selection.

Also, know how the plant reproduces before making a selection. Is the plant an aggressive invader, spreading by rhizome or root? If so, select a site you can confine, such as a container or bed with a physical barrier of some sort. Does it self-sow readily from seed? If so, there are a few management choices—either remove the flowers before seed are formed (which would probably be a shame if the flowers were attractive), or be ready to be a vigilant weeder. A third option is to apply a pre-emerge herbicide at the right time to prevent the seed from developing into seedlings.

Using Grasses in Specialty or Theme Gardens

Because grasses are so diverse and adaptable, they can be used in many types of gardens. Ranging from the large estate owner who employs a bevy of gardening staff to the apartment or dorm dweller whose garden consists of one lone container, anyone can grow and enjoy ornamental grass.

Grasses have a place in many theme gardens. For example, ornamental grasses, such as the bamboos, are used extensively in Japanese gardens. Other theme gardens in which grasses could play a role could be a Biblical garden, since the giant reed (Arundo donax L.) is believed by many to be the bulrush of the Bible. This garden could include a sorghum plant as well, because some Biblical botanists believe this to be the reed in the crucifixion verses. An herb garden would include the lemon grass [Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf].

Container Gardens

Container gardens can be large or small, combinations of plants, or just one specimen. Pick the container to match the needs of the plant(s) and to complement the surroundings. Combine several sizes, shapes, and colors of pots into a nice grouping, or pair identical pots on either side of an entryway. Remember that container gardens typically need more attention than the same plants in the ground. Be especially mindful of watering. Use grasses in containers the same way they are used in the landscape, for example, as an accent or focal point of the planting or as a background for the more colorful plants. Grasses can be the large, vertical element of the container or the low, spreading, or cascading element of the container garden. The more aggressive spreaders such as the bamboos could be easily restricted in a container.

Rock or Trough Gardens

Because many types of grasses are very drought tolerant once established and some are dwarf as well, they can be included in rock or trough gardens. You can have fun experimenting to find the best selections.

Water Gardens

Besides the beauty they contribute, grasses can stabilize the edge of a lake, small pond, or stream to prevent erosion. Examples are bamboo or giant reed. Grasses contribute little plant litter to the water, unlike many other ornamental plants. You can choose from many selections that can grow in or near water.

Wildlife Gardens

If you are interested in developing a landscape that is attractive to wildlife, certainly include grasses. Birds and other wildlife feed on the seed heads of many grasses. Many types of wildlife, including birds and small mammals, use the foliage for cover and nesting. Having a diversity of grasses combined with flowering trees, shrubs, and other flowering plants attracts a diversity of wildlife that can add to the sustainability of your landscape.

Craft or Cutting Garden

Floral designers or craftsmen can find many uses for ornamental grasses in their art. The fluffy, colorful flowers and the arching or mounding foliage lend themselves to fresh or dried arrangements. Creating interior accents such as wreaths, garlands, topiaries, swags, or other arrangements with grass inflorescences or foliage is easy and fun for the do-it-yourselfer as well as the professional designer. In particular, incorporating grasses into autumn décor is popular and attractive. A table centerpiece of small, colorful ornamental gourds arranged with a vase of fall flowers and grasses can be very festive. Adorning the front door with a wreath woven from fall foliage, vines, and branches and decorated with seedpods, cones, and ornamental grasses creates a colorful welcome for any visitors.

Native Garden

Interest is increasing in restoring landscapes to a more native version of the original landscape of this country before the influence of Europeans. Some reasons for using natives include the idea that natives are easy to maintain, they are hardy and adaptable, they are historically interesting, or you might have an interest in plant heritage. Native grasses certainly were a big part of the native flora of the Midsouth and should be an integral part of any native garden. Native grasses are designated as such in the tables in the back of this publication.

For those interested in preserving the local ecotypes, seed or plants collected from locally grown stock can be preferable to those seed or plants grown in another geographic area. Plants with a wide range may exhibit naturally occurring variations, each more suited to one particular region. For example, it just makes sense that a native grass such as little bluestem that is grown from stock in Maine may not be as well suited to your area of the Midsouth as the same little bluestem that is from stock grown in Carriere, Mississippi.

Meadow or Prairie Garden

For those interested in establishing or preserving an area of the landscape as a meadow or prairie, grasses would certainly be a part of the process. Purists might want to stick with using the natives, but introduced grasses can be nice, well behaved additions to a home meadow or prairie area. As two Mississippi native plant enthusiasts, Gail Barton and Marc Pastorek have said, “grasses are the canvases on which wildflowers should be painted.” For further information on establishing a wildflower meadow, see Extension Publication 1709 Wildflowers for Mississippi Meadows and Gardens.

Herbaceous Grasses

Many herbaceous grasses are used as ornamentals. These include many native and introduced ornamental grass species. Grass genera such as Andropogon, Miscanthus, Panicum, and Uniola fit within this group. These grasses may be annual or perennial, cool- or warm-season. As you can see, use and management in the landscape can be quite variable. Some can be established from seed, while others are only vegetatively planted, especially variegated grasses.

Some literature is available on ornamental grasses, but this information is not generally specific to the Midsouth region, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. A list of herbaceous grasses considered adapted to the Midsouth is provided in a table at the end of this publication.

Woody Grasses

Woody Grasses include the bamboos (subfamily: Bambusoideae), such as black, goldengroove, and golden bamboos (Phyllostachys spp.), and a few other upright perennial grasses (subfamily: Arundinoideae), such as giant reed (Arundo donax), reed [Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex Steud.], and others. Although these grasses are often tall, some are short and used as groundcovers.

Many bamboos are now commercially available. Information on many considered adapted to the Midsouth is provided at the end of this publication.

Bamboos include spreaders and clumpers. See Figures 3 and 4 for growth habits. With clumping bamboo, stalks orginate from one area and fan out as they grow upward. The stalks of spreading bamboo are spread out across the ground. Although spreaders can fill voids for screening, they can also be invasive and very difficult to kill once established. Always consider the long-term effects of planting such grasses. For this reason, you may prefer clumpers, such as Bambusa multiplex (Lour.) Raeusch. ex Schult. & Schult. f. and others.

""
Figure 3. Clumping bamboo.
""
Figure 4. Spreading bamboo.

 

Invasive or Weedy Ornamental Grasses

Aside from their use as ornamentals, some ornamental grasses can pose a serious risk of invasion in the landscape. This is particularly true of introduced ornamental grasses, and some, like giant reed, are now regulated as federal or state noxious weeds. Other introduced ornamental grasses may escape within the landscape and cause problems but are not regulated. These grasses should require special management considerations or be avoided.

New ornamental grasses are continually introduced. Be cautious, and avoid purchasing and/or planting problematic or invasive grasses. Planting invasive grasses can result be costly and require hard work to remove from the landscape and possibly surrounding landscapes.

Because of problems from certain introduced grasses, many landscapes now host native grasses. Although some native grasses can be invasive, they are a part of the natural heritage of this country and of lesser concern. Some native alternatives to exotic invasive ornamental grasses are provided in the back of this publication. It is important to remember that an invasive grass in one state or region may not be invasive in another state or region. Like other invasive species, invasive grasses can have regional specificity. When in doubt, it is better to be cautious or avoid using such grasses.

Propagation of Ornamental Grasses

It is important to understand the differences between cool-season and warm-season grasses when propagating. Cool-season grasses, also called C3 grasses, prefer cooler growing temperatures in the fall and spring. These grasses are best propagated in fall before more favorable growing conditions. Warm-season grasses, also called C4 grasses, prefer warmer growing conditions in summer. These grasses are best propagated in spring before more favorable conditions. Most Southern ornamental grasses are warm-season grasses.

Propagation can be vegetative or by seed. Many cultivars should only be propagated vegetatively, including variegated cultivars or those with distinctive leaf or other specific characteristics. This is the most common way to propagate ornamental grasses. But for large areas of native grasses, this method may be too expensive.

Seed propagation is generally desirable under these circumstances, although species and cultivar options can be limited. You can collect seed locally, but in most cases large commercial growers ship seed to local retailers across the country. This seed may not contain local ecotypes of native grasses, but the cultivars may be well adapted to this region. Whether adapted or not, it is important to remember that management options, such as fertilization, landscape placement, and irrigation, can overcome many issues with poor adaptation. Grasses requiring management to survive in the landscape are usually less invasive.

Naturalizing with Native Grasses

Naturalizing usually pertains to larger areas where a natural, less formal landscape is desired. Establishment and management of these areas are similar to that used on golf courses, pastures, and natural areas. Research has been conducted on seed establishment and management of native grass stands, and information available on establishing and managing native grasses is also available on the web.

Generally large areas of native grasses are established by seed. Warm-season grasses are generally seeded in the spring, while cool-season grasses are seeded in the fall. The typical planting unit is pounds (lbs) Pure Live Seed (PLS) per acre. Planting mixes of more than one species is common. Seed can be broadcast by hand or rotary spreader. But seed with a lot of hair will not broadcast from a rotary spreader. Hand broadcasting, with the addition of sand, is generally necessary. Such seed can be hydroseeded or hydromulched, but this requires specialized equipment.

Typical seeding rates for common, warm-season grasses are 20 lbs PLS/A for big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitm.), 5 lbs PLS/A for broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus L.), 30 lbs PLS/A for indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash], 25 lbs PLS/A for little bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash], and 10 lbs PLS/A for switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.). Perennial grasses can be slow to establish and may take two or more years to reach maturity. Switchgrass tends to reach maturity faster than other native perennial grasses and is one of the few you can broadcast with a rotary spreader.

Weeds are often an issue in establishing seeded cultivars. Weed seed may be a result of disturbance of the existing soil-seed bank and/or a result of contamination in the purchased seed. Either way, weeds can cause establishment failure if not dealt with in a timely manner.

You can mow taller weeds while grasses are short. Some weeds can be hand pulled, but larger stands may require herbicides. Certain broadleaf herbicides for broadleaf weed control are usually safe on most native grasses. However, very small, newly emerged grass seedlings may be injured by herbicides that are safe to well-established grasses. Test low rates of herbicides on small areas of newly emerged grasses to check species tolerance before treating large areas. Herbicides containing 2,4-D or similar products are typical, but always read and follow label directions, and consider seedling maturity.

Other Seeded Grasses

A few other ornamental grasses are seed propagated. These include a few cool-season annuals and perennials, such as Festuca, and a small number of warm-season annual and perennial grasses, such as Coix and certain Pennisetum spp. These are best planted in small containers until established and then transplanted into the landscape.

Vegetative Propagation of Herbaceous Ornamental Grasses

Vegetative propagation is the most common form of propagation for herbaceous perennial ornamental grasses. It is almost always done by division of rhizomes, stolons, or tillers of larger plants. This is best practiced early in or just before the growing season to allow time for full development. This would be fall for cool-season grasses and early spring for warm-season grasses. You can grow recently divided plants in containers to encourage quicker establishment.

Vegetative Propagation of Bamboos

Bamboos are propagated from rhizomes, since plants may take years to flower. Clumping bamboos, such as Bambusa multiplex, have very short rhizomes and can be more difficult to propagate. Spreading bamboos, such as Phyllostachys, are easier to propagate, although most bamboos are slow to establish. It is important to have several nodes on each rhizome being propagated. Avoid excessive bending when planting.

Once planted, the bamboo may not have full vigor for a year or more. First culms (stalks or shoots) are generally smaller, eventually reaching full size over time.

Once established, bamboos can live for many years. You may see them at old home sites long after homeowners have left. Thus, keep this in mind when planting spreading bamboos, since they may spread ­­­to adjacent property and cause poor relations with neighbors.

Larger bamboos may need a a culm-and-a-half or more width of mowed space to keep plants from crossing an area. For example, if the mature height is expected to be 30 feet, then allow 45 feet or more of lawn space around the planting area.

Smaller bamboos, such as Pleioblastus pygmaeus (Miq.) Nak., can tolerate certain amounts of mowing and may spread easily into areas where they are not wanted. Thus, enclose small, groundcover-type bamboos to prevent unwanted spread. Use concrete or steel ground barriers. Always make sure they are much deeper than the rhizomes.

Management of Ornamental Grasses

Grasses typically respond well to fertilization. But over fertilizing can cause lodging, which is not desirable. Once established, many ornamental grasses do not need fertilization, so this is one of the benefits of using ornamental grasses. Rates of 1 lb of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. per growing month should be adequate for establishing most ornamental grasses.

Remember that growing seasons are different for cool- and warm-season grasses. The first application during the growing season could include an even analysis fertilizer (e.g. 13-13-13). We recommend a soil test analysis before you apply complete fertilizers.

Pruning is often necessary for grasses, since determinate flowering is typical. Determinate flowering means that once flowering is complete, the flowering culm eventually dies. Culms may be annual or take a year or more to flower, so you may not want to remove all foliage.

You can remove individually flowering culms from some grasses, such as pampas grass [Cortaderia selloana (Schult.& Schult.F.) Asch.& Grabn.], while others may be cut back to around 6 inches above the soil surface before each growing season. This would be early spring for warm-season grasses or late summer to early fall for cool-season grasses. Although this is not required, removing dead material can add to the looks of the grass. It is best to remove only dead material from bamboos, since bamboo culms are perennial. Perennial ornamental grasses generally do not require much tillage once established. You can mulch and maintain these grasses similar to other perennial ornamentals.

Weed Management in Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses may be damaged by post-emergent graminicides, such as Fusilade (fluazifop-p-butyl) and Poast (sethoxydim). Don’t use these on ornamental grasses unless the label specifically says so. Certain broadleaf and pre-emergent herbicides may be safe on ornamental grasses, but always check herbicide labels before use.

Herbaceous Ornamental Grasses for Midsouth Landscapes

Scientific Name1

Common Name2

Comments3

Origin of Species4

Hardiness5

Live Cycle

Physiology6

Sun

Andropogon gerardii Vitm.

Big Bluestem

Upright

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Andropogon gyrans Ashe

Elliott’s Bluestem

Upright, silky inflorescence

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Andropogon ternarius

Split Beard Bluestem

Upright, silky tufted inflorescence

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Bouteloua gracilis (HBK) Griffiths

Blue Grama

Fine, grayish foliage; arid species

SW Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Calamagrostis x acutiflora (Schrad.) DC. CV.

Feather Reedgrass

Karl Foerster and other cultivars; cool locations

Hybrid

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Calamagrostis arundinacea (L.) Roth

Reedgrass

Clumping; cool locations

Eur. to Asia Minor

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Calamagrostis brachytricha Steud.

Korean Feather Reedgrass

Clumping; cool locations

C. to E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Chasmanthium latifolium (Michx.) Yates

North American Wild Oats

Bamboo-like foliage; pendant spikelets

Native; Eastern U.S.

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Coix lacryma-jobi L.

Job’s Tears

Novelty; fruit used for beads

SE Asia

Zone 9

Annual

Warm

Full

Cortaderia selloana (Schult.& Schult.F.) Asch.& Grabn.

Pampas Grass

Escaped in SW. White and pink flower forms

South America

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Cortaderia selloana ‘Gold Band’

Gold Band Pampas Grass

Gold-margined form

Cultivar

Zone 8

Perennial

Warm

Full

Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’

Dwarf Pampas Grass

Dwarf form

Cultivar

Zone 8

Perennial

Warm

Full

Cortaderia selloana ‘Silver Stripe’

Silver Stripe Pampas Grass

White variegated form

Cultivar

Zone 8

Perennial

Warm

Full

Cymbopogon citratus (DC. Ex Nees) Stapf

Lemon Grass

Lemon scented and grown as herbs

India, Ceylon

Zone 9

Perennial

Warm

Full

Elymus canadensis L.

Canada Wild Rye

Gray foliage; bottlebrush inflorescence

N.A.

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Elymus virginicus L.

Virginia Wild Rye

Greenish foliage; bottlebrush inflorescence

N.A.

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Eragrostis curvula (Schrad.) Nees

Weeping Lovegrass

Invasive in W.; fine basal foliage; open inflorescence

Southern Afr.

Zone 7

Perennial

Warm

Full

Eragrostis spectabilis (Pursh) Steud.

Purple Lovegrass

Native with reddish inflorescence

Native; SE U.S.

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Festuca amethystina L. ‘Bronzeglanz’

Bronze Glazed Tufted Fescue

Clumps similar to blue fescue, but more purple

C. Eur.

N. Region

Perennial

Cool

Full

Festuca ovina L. var. glauca (Lam.) Hackel

Blue Fescue

Clumps of blue-gray foliage; short

North Temperate

N. Region

Perennial

Cool

Full

Glyceria maxima (Hartm.) Holmb.

Reed Mannagrass

Use variegated varieties for best show

Temperate Eurasia

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full

Hakonechloa macra (Munro) Mak.

Japanese Forest Grass

Use variegated cultivars, like ‘Aureola’ for best show

Japan

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Holcus mollis L.

Creeping Softgrass

Use variegated varieties for best show

Eur.

N. Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Hordeum jubatum L.

Squirrel-tail Barley

Invasive in other regions; bottlebrush inflorescence

North Temperate

N. Region

Annual

Cool

Full

Hystrix patula Moench.

Bottle-brush Grass

Tufted perennial with bottlebrush inflorescence

Native; E N.A.

N. Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Miscanthus floridulus (Labill.) Warb.

Maidengrass

Tall, stems pronounced, rhizomatous (spreading) species

SE Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus oligostachyus Stapf. ‘Purpurescens’

Small Maidengrass

Small; green foliage with reddish fall color

Japan

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sacchariflorus (Maxim.) Hackel

Amur Silver Grass

Tall, rhizomatous (spreading) species

Asia

Zone 8

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sacchariflorus ‘Robustus’

Large Amur Silver Grass

Larger, rhizomatous (spreading) species

Asia

Zone 8

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss.*

Maidengrass, Jap. Silver Grass

Many cultivars. Avoid using multiple cultivars together

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Adagio’*

Adagio Maidengrass

Dwarf form

E. Asia

Zone 7

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Autumn Light’*

Autumn Light Maidengrass

Standard form

E. Asia

Zone 7

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Cabaret’*

Cabaret Maidengrass

Longitudinally white variegated midribs; large plant

E. Asia

Zone 7

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. var. condensatus*

Coastal Maidengrass

Coastal variety

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Cosmopolitan’*

Cosmopolitan Maidengrass

Longitudinally white variegated margins; large plant

E. Asia

Zone 7

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Gold Bar’

Gold Bar Porcupine Grass

Dwarf, 36” tall, with horizontal yellow bands, burgundy plumes

E. Asia

Zone 5

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Goldfeder’*

Goldfeder Maidengrass

Longitudinally gold variegated

foliage

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Gracillimus’*

Slender Maidengrass

Compact, narrowleaf form

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Graziella’*

Graziella Maidengrass

Green, large, upright, early

flowering

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Kirk’s Dwarf’*

Kirk’s Dwarf Maidengrass

Small plant; transverse cream-gold variegated leaves

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Morning Light’*

Morning Light Maidengrass

Slender, longitudinally white variegated leaves

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Sarabande’*

Sarabande Maidengrass

Slender green leaves

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Silberfeder’*

Silver Feather Maidengrass

Green foliage; silver inflorescence

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Silberpfeil’*

Silver Arrow Maidengrass

Longitudinally white variegated

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Strictus’*

Porcupine Maidengrass

Upright; transversely cream variegated

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Variegatus’*

Variegated Maidengrass

Longitudinally white variegated; standard form

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Yaku Jima’*

Yaku Jima Maidengrass

Dwarf narrowleaf form

Japan

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. ‘Zebrinus’*

Zebragrass

Transversely cream variegated; standard form

E. Asia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Miscanthus transmorrisonensis Hayata*

Taiwanese Maidengrass

Small; evergreen foliage; early flowering

Taiwan

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Lam.) Trin.

Purple Muhly

Fine basal foliage, red inflorescence

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Muhlenbergia dumosa Scribn. ex Vasey

Bamboo Muhly

Fine foliage on bamboo-like culms

SW Native

Zone 8

Perennial

Warm

Full

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri Hitchc.

Lindheimer Muhly

Clumping with fine grayish foliage.

SW Native

Zone 7

Perennial

Warm

Full

Muhlenbergia rigens (Benth.) Hitchc.

Deergrass

Fine basal foliage; arid species

Native; California

Zone 8

Perennial

Warm

Full

Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’

Cloud Nine Switchgrass

Gray leaf form

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Panicum virgatum L. ‘Hanse Herms’

Hanse Herms Switchgrass

Red leaf form

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’

Heavy Metal Switchgrass

Gray leaf form

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’

Northwind Switchgrass

Gray leaf form

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Sky’

Prairie Sky Switchgrass

Gray leaf form

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Panicum virgatum ‘Rehbraun’

Rehbraun Switchgrass

Red fall color

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’

Rotstrahlbusch Switchgrass

Red leaf form

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah

Shenandoah Switchgrass

Red leaf form

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng. *

Dwarf Fountaingrass

Clumping; dark bottlebrush inflorescence

E. Asia to W. Australia

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Pennisetum incomptum Nees ex Steud.

Spreading Fountaingrass

Rhizomatous with upright whitish bottlebrush inflorescences

China, Himalayas

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Pennisetum macrostachyum (Brongn.) Trin. ‘Burgundy Giant’

Burgundy Giant Fountaingrass

Large, purpleleaved form; commonly grown as summer annual

East Indies

Zone 9

Perennial

Warm

Full

Pennisetum orientale Rich.

Oriental Fountaingrass

Clumping; white-pink bottlebrush inflorescences

Asia to India

Zone 7

Perennial

Warm

Full

Pennisetum setaceum (Forssk.) Choiv.

Tender Fountaingrass

Clumping; white-purple bottlebrush inflor.; foliage green-purple

Afr. to SW Asia

Zone 9

Perennial

Warm

Full

Pennisetum villosum R.Br. ex Fries

Feathertop

Clumping; white bottlebrush inflorescences; foliage green

NE Tropical Afr.

Zone 8

Perennial

Warm

Full

Phalaris arundinacea L. ‘Feesey’

Feesey’s Ribbon Grass

Less invasive variegated form; others are available

S. Afr., Eurasia, N.A.

N. Region

Perennial

Cool

Full

Piptochaetium avenaceum (L.) Parodi

Black-seed needlegrass

Fine basal foliage, dark inflorescence

Native

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Pogonatherum paniceum Trin.

Bamboo Grass

Small bamboo-like grass for novelty, grown as an annual

India, China, Malaysia

Zone 9

Perennial

Warm

Full–Part Shade

Rhynchelytrum repens (Willd.) C.Hubb.

Ruby or Natal Grass

Grown for pink inflorescences, usually as an annual

Tropical Afr.

Zone 8

Perennial

Warm

Full

Saccharum arundinaceum Retz.

Hardy Sugarcane

Very large with gray foliage and silky plumes

India to Malaysia

Zone 7

Perennial

Warm

Full

Saccharum giganteum (Walt.) Pers.

Sugarcane Plumegrass

Wetland grass, silky plumes

Native

Zone 7

Perennial

Warm

Full

Saccharum officinarum L. ‘Pele’s Smoke’

Pele’s Smoke Sugarcane

Purple leaf form of sugarcane

SE Asia

Zone 9

Perennial

Warm

Full

Schizachyrium littorale (Nash) C.Bickn.

Coastal Little Bluestem

Gray foliage; dunes

Native

Coastal

Perennial

Warm

Full

Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash ‘Taos’

Taos Little Bluestem

Improved fall color

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’

The Blues Little Bluestem

Gray leaf form

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Setaria palmifolia (Koenig) Stapf*

Palm Grass

Large with palm-like leaves; grown as annual in cooler zones

Tropical Asia

Zone 9

Perennial

Warm

Full–Part Shade

Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash ‘Sioux Blue’

Sioux Blue Indiangrass

Gray leaf form

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Spartina cynosuroides (L.) Roth

Big Cordgrass

Salt marsh, large clump former

Native

Coastal

Perennial

Warm

Full

Spartina pectinata Link ‘Aureomarginata’

Variegated Prairie Cordgrass

Golden margined cultivar; wetland species; can be invasive

Native; C. N.A.

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Sporobolus heterolepis (A. Gray) A. Gray

Prairie Dropseed

Fine basal foliage in clumps

Native in Arkansas

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Sporobolus junceus (P. Beauv.) Kunth

Piney Woods Dropseed

Fine basal foliage in clumps often grayish in color

Native

Region

Perennial

Warm

Full

Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze ‘Variegatum’

St. Augustinegrass

Variegated form of southern turfgrass, not very hardy

Tropical

Zone 9

Perennial

Warm

Full–Part Shade

Stipa (Austrostipa) elegantissima Labill.

Australian Needlegrass

Clumping, very fine leaved feather grass; arid species

Temperate Australia

Zone 8

Perennial

Cool

Full

Stipa gigantea Link

Giant Feather Grass

Large, clumping feather grass; arid species

SW Eur., NW Afr.

Zone 8

Perennial

Cool

Full

Stipa tenuissima Trin.

Mexican Feather Grass

Clumping, very fine leaved feather grass; arid species

SW U.S., Mex., Argentina

Zone 7

Perennial

Cool

Full

Thysanolaena maxima (Roxb.) Kuntze

Bamboo Grass

Bamboo-like, but different subfamily (Arudinoideae)

Tropical Asia

Zone 9

Perennial

Cool

Full–Part Shade

Uniola paniculata L.

Sea Oats

Tall, rhizomatous perennial grass of coastal dunes

Native; E U.S., W. Indies

Coastal

Perennial

Warm

Full

Zizania aquatica L.

Wild Rice

Tall, aquatic annual; used for food by Native Americans

Native; N.A.

Region

Annual

Cool

Full

Zizaniopsis miliacea (Michx.) Döll & Asch.

Southern Wild Rice

Tall, aquatic perennial; spreads and can be invasive

Native; SE N.A.

Region

Perennial

Cool

Full

1Latin name followed by authority and cultivar or variety where applicable. Not an exhaustive of species, but species familiar to lead author. ‘*’ = Caution, exotic species that can be invasive.

2Not a complete list of common names.

3General comments for assistance with placement and cultivation.

4Origin of species, not cultivar. Afr.=Africa; C.=Central; E=Eastern; Eur.=Europe; Mex.=Mexico; N.A.=North America; NW=Northwest; S=South; SE=Southeast; SW=Southwest; W=West; U.S.=United States.

5Hardiness refers to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. Region refers to species hardy throughout the MidSouth region.

6Physiology refers to cool- or warm-season grasses. Cool-season (C3) grasses often do not perform well in hot, humid weather.

Bamboos for Midsouth Landscapes

Scientific Name1

Common Name2

Comments3

Species Origin4

Hardy5

Arundinaria gigantea (Walt.) Muhl.

Native Cane

Native bamboo. Can be aggressive.

Native

Region

Bambusa multiplex (Lour.) Rausch. ‘Alphonse Karr’

Alphonse Karr Hedge Bamboo

Upright clumper with variegated culms.

S. China

Zone 9

Bambusa multiplex ‘Fernleaf’

Fernleaf Hedge Bamboo

Upright clumper with tiny leaves.

S. China

Zone 9

Bambusa multiplex ‘Golden Goddess’

Golden Goddess Hedge Bamboo

Upright clumper with golden culms.

S. China

Zone 9

Bambusa multiplex ‘Riviereorum’

Chinese Goddess Hedge Bamboo

Upright clumper with slender culms.

S. China

Zone 9

Bambusa multiplex ‘Silver Stripe’

Silver Stripe Hedge Bamboo

Upright clumper with variegated leaves.

S. China

Zone 9

Bambusa ventricosa McClure

Buddha Belly Bamboo

Upright clumper with swollen internodes

S. China

Zone 9

Bashania fargesii (E.G. Camus) Keng f. & T.P. Yi

Wind Break Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~20 feet.

China

Zone 7

Chimonobambusa quadrangularis (Fenzi) Mak.

Square Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~20 feet.

SE China, Taiwan

Zone 9

Chimonobambusa marmorea (Mitford) Mak.’Variegata’

Kan-Chiku

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~5 feet.

Japan?

Zone 8

Hibanobambusa tranquillans (Koidz.) Maruyama & H. Okamura ‘Shiroshima’

Shiroshima Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~15 feet.

Japan

Zone 7

Indocalamus hamadae (Hatus.) Stapleton (Syn. I. tessellatus f. hamadae (Munro) Keng)

Hamada Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~10 feet.

Japan

Zone 6

Indocalamus latifolius (Keng) McClure

Broadleaf Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 10 feet.

E. China

Zone 7

Indocalamus tessellatus (Munro) Mak. & Shib.

Tessellated Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~10 feet.

C. China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys angusta McClure

Stone Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~20 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys atrovaginata C.S. Chao & H.Y. Zhou (Syn. P. congesta Rendle)

Incense Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 35 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys aurea (Carr.) A.& C. Riv.

Golden Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~20 feet.

SE China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys aureosulcata McClure

Goldengroove Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 30 feet. Culm sulca golden.

NE China

Zone 5

Phyllostachys bambusoides Sieb. & Zucc.

Giant Timber Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: Over 50 feet

China, Japan?

Zone 7

Phyllostachys bambusoides ‘Castillon’

Castillon Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 35 feet. Variegated culms.

China, Japan?

Zone 7

Phyllostachys bissetii McClure

David Bisset Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~25 feet

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys decora McClure

Beautiful Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 30 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys dulcis McClure

Sweetshoot Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 40 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys edulis (Carr.) Houz.

Moso

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~50 feet.

China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys flexuosa (Carr.) A.& C. Riv.

Zig-zag Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~20 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys glauca McClure

Smooth Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~30 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys heteroclada D. Oliver ex Hook. (Syn. P. purpurata McClure)

Water Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 30 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys iridescens C.Y. Yao & S.Y. Chen

Cock Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: Over 40 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys meyeri McClure

Meyer’s Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 30 feet.

China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys nidularia Munro

Nidularia Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~30 feet.

N.& C. China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys nigra (Lodd. ex Lindl.) Munro

Black Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~30 feet. Black culms.

E.& C. China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys nigra ‘Bory’

Tiger Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~50 feet. Culms with gold patches.

E.& C. China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henon’

Henon Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 50 feet. Green culms, larger.

E.& C. China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys nuda McClure

Nude Sheath Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 34 feet.

China

Zone 5

Phyllostachys platyglossa Z.P. Wang et Z.H. Yu

Gray Water Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~25 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys praecox C.D. Chu & C.S. Chao

Early Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~30 feet.

China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys rubromarginata McClure

Red Margin or Reddish Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~55 feet.

China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys stimulosa H.R. Zhao & A.T. Liu

Stimulosa Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 25 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys violascens (Carr.) A. & C. Riv.

Violet Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 30 feet.

China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys viridis (R.A. Young) McClure

Pigskin Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 40 feet.

E. China

Zone 7

Phyllostachys vivax McClure

Chinese Timber Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~70 feet.

E. China

Zone 6

Phyllostachys vivax ‘Aureocaulis’

Golden Vivax Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~45 feet.

E. China

Zone6

Pleioblastus chino (Franch. & Savat.) Mak.

Angustifolia Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~10 feet.

C. Japan

Zone 7

Pleioblastus distichus (Mitford) Muroi & H. Okamura

Dwarf Fernleaf Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 2 feet.

Japan?

Zone 6

Pleioblastus fortunei (Van Houtte) Nak.

Dwarf Whitestripe Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~3 feet

Japan?

Zone 7

Pleioblastus gramineus (Bean) Nak.

Gramineus Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~10 feet.

Japan, E. China

Zone 8

Pleioblastus linearis (Hackel) Nak.

Linearis Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~10 feet.

C. Japan

Zone 8

Pleioblastus pygmaeus (Miq.) Nak.

Pygmy Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 2 feet.

Japan?

Zone 6

Pleioblastus shibuyanus Mak. & Nak.

Dwarf Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~7 feet.

Japan

Zone 6

Pleioblastus simonii (Carr.) Nak.

Medake, Woman Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~15 feet.

C.& S. Japan

Zone 7

Pleioblastus viridistriatus (Reg.) Mak.

Dwarf Greenstripe Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~3 feet.

China?

Zone 7

Pseudosasa amabilis (McClure) Keng

Tonkin Cane

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~30 feet

SE Asia

Zone 8

Pseudosasa japonica (Sieb. & Zucc. ex Steud.) Mak. ex Nak.

Arrow Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~15 feet.

Japan

Zone 7

Pseudosasa japonica ‘Tsutsumiana’

Green Onion Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height:10 feet. Swollen internodes.

Japan

Zone 7

Pseudosasa longiligula T.H. Wen

Longiligula Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~20 feet.

China

Zone 7

Sasa palmata (Burb.) Camus

Palmleaf Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~5 feet.

Japan

Zone 7

Sasa oshidensis Mak. et Uchida

Oshidensis Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 6 feet

Japan

Zone 6

Sasa veitchii (Carr.) Rehd.

Variegated Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~3 feet.

Japan

Zone 6

Sasaella masamuneana (Mak.) Hatsusima & Muroi en Sugimoto ‘Albostriata’

Whitestriped Dwarf Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~5 feet.

Japan

Zone 7

Sasamorpha borealis (Hackel) Nak.

Suzutake

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~5 feet.

Japan, China

Zone 6

Semiarundinaria fastuosa (Marliac ex Mitford) Mak. ex Nak.

Temple Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~30 feet.

S. Japan

Zone 6

Semiarundinaria okuboi Mak.

Okuboi Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: ~20 feet.

Japan

Zone 7

Shibataea chinensis Nak.

Chinese Shibataea

Caution: Spreader. Height: 5 feet

China

Zone 6

Shibataea kumasaca (Zoll. ex Steud.) Mak. ex Nak.

Ruscus-leaved Bamboo

Caution: Spreader. Height: 5 feet

China, Japan

Zone 6

Shibataea lancifolia C.H. Hu

Lanceleaf Shibataea

Caution: Spreader. Height: 5 feet

China

Zone 6

Sinobambusa intermedia McClure

Intermediate Bamboo

Slow spreader. Height: ~20 feet.

China

Zone 8

1Latin name followed by authority and cultivar or variety where applicable. This is not an exhaustive list, but those with which the senior author is familiar. ‘Syn.’=Commonly used synonyms.

2This is not a complete list of common names.

3General comments for assistance with placement and cultivation

4Origin of species, not necessarily cultivar. C.=Central; E=Eastern; N=Northern; NE=Northeast; S=Southern; SE=Southeast; ?=origin not certain. Countries followed by a question mark (?) are possible countries of origin where origin is not known.

5Hardiness Zones refer to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones.

Alternatives to Exotic Invasive Grasses1 for the Midsouth

Invasive Species

Comments on Invasives

Alternatives

Comments on Alternatives

Hardiness

Native2

Bamboo [Phyllostachys spp.]

Spreaders, invasive and difficult to control when established. Not regulated in MidSouth.

Arundinaria gigantea (Walt.) Muhl.

Native bamboo, prefers damp soils.

Zone 5

Region

Cogongrass [Imperata cylindrica (L.) P.Beauv. ‘Red Barron’]

 

Federal Noxious Weed, State Noxious in AL, AR, MS. Includes Japanese bloodgrass and other cultivars.

Panicum virgatum L. ‘Hanse Herms’

Red leaf form of switchgrass.

Zone 4

Region

Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’

Red leaf form of switchgrass.

Zone 4

Region

Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah

Red leaf form of switchgrass.

Zone 4

Region

Dwarf Fountaingrass [Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng.]

Not regulated in MidSouth. May escape, particularly in damp conditions.

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Lam.) Trin.

Fine basal foliage, purple inflorescence.

Zone 5

Region

Sporobolus heterolepis (A. Gray) A. Gray

Fine basal foliage, purple inflorescence.

Zone 3

W. AR

Maidengrass [Miscanthus sinensis Andersson]

Not regulated in MidSouth. May escape if multiple cultivars are planted together

Panicum virgatum ‘Rehbraun’

Green to red leaf form of switchgrass.

Zone 5

Region

Maidengrass [Miscanthus sinensis var. gracillimus Hitchc.]

Same.

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Fine basal foliage, purple inflorescence.

Zone 5

Region

Purple Fountaingrass [Pennisetum setaceum (Forssk.) Choiv. Cultivars]

Problematic in western U.S., not regulated in MidSouth

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Fine basal foliage, purple inflorescence.

Zone 5

Region

Sporobolus heterolepis

Fine basal foliage, purple inflorescence.

Zone 3

W. AR

Ravenna Grass [Saccharum ravennae (L.) L.]

Not regulated in MidSouth. Escapes via wind dispersed seed.

Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’

Gray leaf form of switchgrass.

Zone 5

Region

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’

Gray leaf form of switchgrass.

Zone 5

Region

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’

Gray leaf form of switchgrass.

Zone 5

Region

Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Sky’

Gray leaf form of switchgrass.

Zone 5

Region

Saccharum giganteum (Walt.) Pers.

Sugarcane plumegrass, prefers wet soils.

Zone 5

Region

Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash ‘Sioux Blue’

Gray leaf form of indiangrass.

Zone 4

Region

Serrated Tussock [Nassella dichotoma (Nees) Hackel ex Arechav.]

Federal Noxious Weed, State Noxious in AR.

Piptochaetium avenaceum (L.) Parodi

Fine basal foliage, dark inflorescence, long awns.

Zone 6

Region

Sporobolus heterolepis

Fine basal foliage, purple inflorescence.

Zone 3

W. AR

1This is not an exhaustive list of exotic invasive grasses or alternatives, but it is provided as a guide to protect landowners from invasion and possible litigation.

2Hardiness Zones refer to USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. Region refers to species hardy throughout the Mid South region (AL, AR, LA, MS, & TN).

References

Alderson, J. & W.C. Sharp. 1994. Grass varieties in the United States. Agri. Handbook 170. USDA-SCS, Washington, D.C.

Brown, L. 1979. Grasses: An identification guide. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY.

Clayton, W.D. & S.A. Renvoize. 1986. Genera Graminum: Grasses of the World. Kew Bulletin Additional Series XIII. Royal Botanic Gardens, London, UK.

Darke, R. & M. Griffiths, Eds. 1994. The new Royal Horticultural Society dictionary: Manual of grasses. Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR.

Gibbs Russell, G.E., L. Watson, M. Koekemoer, L. Smook, N.P. Barker, H.M. Anderson & M.J. Dallwitz. 1991. Grasses of Southern Africa. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria, South Africa.

Gould, F.W. 1968. Grass systematics. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, NY.

Greenlee, J. 1992. The encyclopedia of ornamental grasses. Michael Friedman Publishing Group, Inc., New York, NY.

Grounds, R. 1998. The plantfinder’s guide to ornamental grasses. Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR.

Judziewicz, E.J., L.G. Clark, X. Londono & M.J. Stern. 1999. American bamboos. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Wilson, J. & F. Rushing. 2007. Publication 1709 Wildflowers for Mississippi meadows and gardens. Mississippi State University Extension Service.

King, M. & P. Oudolf. 1998. Gardening with grasses. Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR.

Maddox, V.L. & J.M. Goatley. 1995. Evaluations of ornamental grasses and grass-like plants: 1992–1994. Mississippi Agric. & Forestry Exp. Stat. Information Bull. 279.

Maddox, V.L., J.M. Goatley, Jr., H.W. Philley, J.V. Krans, B.R. Stewart & D.W. Wells. 2003. Evaluation of native grass cultivars for Mississippi Golf course natural areas under variable management: Part I-Soil pH of 5.2. Mississippi Agric. & Forestry Exp. Stat. Bull. 1132.

Maddox, V.L., J.M. Goatley, Jr., H.W. Philley, J.V. Krans, B.R. Stewart & D.W. Wells. 2004. Evaluation of native grass cultivars for Mississippi Golf course natural areas under variable management: Part II-Soil pH of 6.5. Mississippi Agric. & Forestry Exp. Stat. Bull. 1137.

McClure, F.A. 1993. The bamboos. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.

Moore, K.J. & B.E. Anderson, Eds. 2000. Native warm-season grasses: Research trends and issues. Crop Science Society of America, Madison, WI. Special Pub. 30.

Meadowmakers. Corporation specializing in design, restoration, reconstruction and management of native ecosystems in Mississippi and Louisiana. 248 Charles Daughill Road, Carriere, MS 39426. Phone: 601-799-1808. Web page: http://www.meadowmakers.com/

Ottesen, C. 1989. Ornamental grasses: The amber wave. McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, New York, NY.

Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles & C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC.

Recht, C. & M.F. Wetterwald. 1998. Bamboos. Ed. D. Crampton. Timber Press, Inc., Portland, OR.

Soderstrom, T.R., K.W. Hilu, C.S. Campbell & M.E. Barkworth, eds. 1986. Grass systematics and evolution. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.

USDA-NRCS. 1991. Native perennial warm season grasses for forage in Southeastern United States (except South Florida). USDA-NRCS, Ecological Sciences and Planning Staff, Fort Worth, TX.

Watson, L. & M.J. Dallwitz. 1992. The grass genera of the world. CAB International, Wallingford, UK.


Publication 2532 (POD-01-22)

Revised by Victor Maddox, PhD, Senior Research Associate, Plant and Soil Sciences, and Jeff Wilson, PhD, Assistant Professor, North Mississippi Research and Extension Center. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Mississippi State University Extension Service is working to ensure all web content is accessible to all users. If you need assistance accessing any of our content, please email the webteam or call 662-325-2262.

Select Your County Office

Authors

Portrait of Dr. Jeff Wilson
Assistant Professor
Horticulture: State Master Gardener Coordinator

Related Publications

Publication Number: P2905
Publication Number: P3839
Publication Number: P2339

Pages