Articles in Category: Grasses

Panicum virgatum

on Thursday, 01 October 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Fall Color, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Flowering Plants

Switchgrass

Echinacea and PanicumPanicum virgatum – also known as Switchgrass – is native to the tallgrass prairies of the Great Plains. Its height, texture, and stunning fall color have made it a favorite of gardeners throughout the Rogue Valley.

Switchgrass is drought tolerant and deer resistant, but will also tolerate clay soils well. Plants prefer full sun and relatively lean soil (over-fertilized plants can get floppy). Light, airy flower heads appear in mid-summer and remain attractive through the winter months; providing four-season interest in the garden.

As with all ornamental grasses here in the Rogue Valley, we recommend leaving the grasses standing through the winter (the leaves provide habitat for beneficial insects and the seeds are beloved by overwintering birds) and cut back in late winter/early spring.

We carry three different varieties of Switchgrass here at Shooting Star Nursery:

Panicum Heavy MetalHeavy Metal – Striking metallic blue-gray leaves with airy buff-pink flower heads. Plants reach 5-6’ tall by 2-3’ wide.

 

Northwind – Strong, upright growth habit; blue-green leaves turn a lovely tawny gold in the fall. Reaches 6’ by 3’. Northwind was the 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year. See photo at top of the page.

 

Panicum2cropShenandoah – During the growing season, green leaves are tipped with reddish-purple and the whole plant turns red and orange in the fall. Truly striking! 3-4’ tall by 18” wide.

Muhlenbergia 'Fast Forward'

on Friday, 21 August 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Flowering Plants

Pink Muhly Grass

FFSome ornamental grasses – Miscanthus ‘Adagio’, Andropogon ‘Red October’, Calamagrostis ‘Karl Forester’, Panicum ‘Northwind’ – are known for their big, bold, structural presence in the garden. These grasses practically beg to be put front and center, and used as a focal point. Other grasses are more subtle and delicate-looking in their appearance. Muhlenbergia ‘Fast Forward’ falls in the latter category.

Muhlenbergia ed‘Fast Forward’ is a truly graceful ornamental grass. It’s finely textured, with bluish-green foliage that grows in a tidy clump; about 2-4” tall by up to 3’ wide. As attractive as the leaves are, though, the inflorescences are what makes this a stunning addition to a garden or border. Plants begin blooming in late August, and the lovely pink inflorescences create a soft haze of color that seems to float in the air. This grass is really effective as a backdrop for other shorter perennials, or massed in a clump. If you can put it somewhere where it will be backlit by the late afternoon sun, that’s even better!

Muhlenbergia ‘Fast Forward’ provides you with both color and texture in the garden, as well as an element most gardeners rarely think of: motion. Fine blades of grass and inflorescences dance slowly in an afternoon breeze; adding a soft vitality to your garden bed or border. These plants are also deer resistant, and do well in full sun.

Like most ornamental grasses ‘Fast Forward’ browns out during the winter. We like to leave the grass blades and flower heads standing all winter: their silhouette provides some lovely visual interest in the winter landscape, and the foliage will help protect the grass from heavy rains and unexpected cold snaps. Cut it back in early spring (late February through early March), when you start to see new growth push through last year’s faded vegetation.

Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose'

on Friday, 14 August 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Karley Rose Oriental Fountain Grass

Karley Rose edAn easy to grow, soft textured fountain grass, Pennisetum 'Karley Rose' will give you months of light pink blooms that are great for floral arrangements and beautiful accents in the garden, but aren't attractive to deer.

This Pennisetum is more cold hardy than the straight species (Pennisetum orientale) and blooms earlier than other varieties like 'Hamelyn'. The rose-pink blooms appear in early summer and continue on until frost. Once the blades and blooms dry out to an autumnal tan, the silhouette remains pretty in the frost of winter. Cut this grass back in early spring, as new growth begins to emerge. Aside from that, there is no special care for this drought tolerant, deer resistant grass.

When in bloom, 'Karley Rose' tops out at about 3' tall and 24-30" wide. ‘Karley Rose’ is easy to divide, to create a graceful, massed effect in your garden. It looks great backlit by early morning or late afternoon sun and pairs nicely with Sedums, Echinaceas and other large-flowered perennials. Full sun or light shade and well-draining soil is best – the one thing ‘Karley Rose’ doesn't like is wet, boggy soil.

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

on Thursday, 11 June 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Fall Color, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant

'Blonde Ambition' Blue Grama Grass

Bouteloua1 edThis North American native prairie grass cultivar is a true performer. Many ornamental grasses don't start blooming until late summer, but ‘Blonde Ambition’ starts flowering in early summer and its blonde, horizontal, eyelash-like blooms persist well into winter. 

Bouteloua detail edAnyone who has visited Shooting Star Nursery knows that we love our ornamental grasses, and Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’ remains one of our very favorites. Its narrow blue-green leaves would be reason enough to like it, but what really makes this grass stand out is its flowers, which start out chartreuse colored and fade to a lovely blonde shade.

It performs well in various garden locations, from well-drained clay to drier sandy soils. At a super useful size of 2-1/2'-3' tall to 3' wide, you can plant it en masse, or use it as a single specimen to contrast with flowering perennials. We like to plant it with other sturdy perennials like Agastache, Eupatorium, Echinacea, and Nepeta. It also combines well in mass plantings with other native grasses like Sporobolus, Schizachyrium, and Muhlenbergia.

 ‘Blonde Ambition’ is very cold hardy and is quite drought tolerant, but can also handle regular watering. Like most ornamental grasses, it is deer resistant and wintering songbirds enjoy eating the seedheads. We like to leave it up all winter as the stiff stems can hold up to snow and provide interest and texture in the winter garden. In early spring, when you see new growth emerging, you can cut back the old stems to about 3" above the soil line and scratch out any old growth. Bouteloua is also reported to tolerate being near Walnut trees, where most plants cannot thrive.

Agave neomexicana

on Friday, 13 January 2017. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant

Hardy Agave

agave neomexicana in snow

Hardy Agaves capture us like no other plant. Their almost mathematical geometry is mesmerizing, and they are tough as nails. One of the true survivors on our property- managing the dips in temp to 0 degrees Fahrenheit in 2013 and the foot of snow in 2017 with not a speck of damage.

The two main hardy Agaves that we enjoy growing are Agave parryi which is a bit more pinecone shaped and Agave neomexicana which is a bit more open. They both are blue in tone and have decorative - but nasty - thorns. They require sharp drainage and seem to do best planted in a mound. We amend the soil with 1/4" gravel or larger decomposed granite and use it for a mulch as well to keep soil away from the crown of the plant.

Agave in bloomAgaves do best in full sun and can look striking in a container. They require little water once established, their fleshy roots are good at growing deeply into the soil. One sharp poke to the nose and deer will know to leave these desert plants alone. These two species are hardy to at least zone 7, if not zone 6. Once they get into the 2' wide range there is the possibility of them making a flower spike and then dying, but they have usually made pups by then which will carry on the Agave torch. You'll want to make room for these gems in your drought tolerant garden!