Articles in Category: Grasses

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.  Agaves 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.

Muhlenbergia capillaris

on Tuesday, 17 September 2013. Posted in Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Pink Muhly Grass

PINK MUHLY GRASSPink Muhly grass is the fairy dust of ornamental grasses.  You have to wait until the end of summer for the haze of pink blooms to emerge, but it is so worth it.  If you have spot that gets that blast of western sun, put Pink Muhly grass there. It will glow and be happy in the hottest and driest of locations.  If you have an area that has poor soil but good drainage, plant it as a large drift for a spectacular show into fall.  This American native ornamental grass is deer resistant and drought tolerant but can take regular water as well.  The fine, wiry, green blades rise to about 2' tall but with the pink flowers rise to 3' tall and wide.  They make a great addition to a cut flower garden with other late blooming perennials.  The seedheads add interest to the winter garden until you cut back the grass in early spring.

Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose'

on Monday, 02 August 2010. Posted in Winter Interest, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Karley Rose Oriental Fountain Grass


An easy to grow, soft textured fountain grass, 'Karley Rose' will give you months of light pink blooms that are great for floral arrangements but aren't attractive to the deer.  This Pennisetum is cold hardier than the straight species and blooms earlier than other species like 'Hamelyn'.   The rose pink blooms start in early summer and continue til frost.  Once the blades and blooms dry out to a autumnal tan the sillouette remains pretty in the frost of winter.  It needs cut back in fall or early spring for the new growth to emerge.  Besides that, there is no care to this drought tolerant, deer resistant grass.   With the blooms, 'Karley Rose' tops out at about 3' tall and 24-30" wide.  It is easy to divide to create a 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, it doesn't want to be in boggy soil.

Stipa gigantea

on Monday, 12 July 2010. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Giant Feather Grass


In the quest for evergreen ornamental grasses, the Giant Feather Grass provides the evergreen green blades but the standout is the 6' tall blooms that shimmer in the evening light and last much longer than most ornamental grasses.  The 2-3' tall clump of foliage can be cut back in the winter to refresh it or left alone to have a permanent presence in the garden.  The blooms start emerging in May and retain their good looks until frost starts to beat them up and need cut back.  Besides that, there is no maintenance needed for this grass and the inflorescences rise dramatically above other perennials or shrubs.  Stipa gigantea is drought tolerant in well drained soil, deer resistant, heat tolerant and has interest all year long.  They look wonderful as a single accent or could be massed for a naturalistic garden.  By the way, it doesn't seed around like its cousin- Stipa tenuissima or Mexican Feather Grass.  It's difficult to photograph the quality of the light as it shines through the blooms, but come visit and we'll show you!