Loma Vista Nursery News

Substitutes for Shrubs

Just like shrubs, herbaceous ornamental grasses come in all sizes, shapes and styles. They are perfect alternatives if you are looking for something a little different in the landscape. Like shrubs, many grasses provide privacy, variety and four-season interest.

Here are some of the favorites we grow at Loma Vista Nursery.

Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha)

Korean Feather Reed Grass

Standing 2 to 3 feet tall and wide at maturity, Korean Feather Reed Grass is graceful as fall breezes sway its cream-colored plumes above cascading, rich-green foliage. Plumes start out pink in late summer and produce seeds for a variety of birds. This grass tolerates wet soils and withstands very cold temperatures. It is striking alone and in mass plantings.

With a mounding habit, Korean Feather Reed Grass prefers sun and partial shade. Good companion plants are weigela and ninebark. Water regularly during hot dry spells. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.

Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’)

Maiden Grass

Delicate and charming with a narrow, mop-like appearance, Maiden Grass is very low maintenance. Use this as a shrub alternative to screen unsightly areas or as border plants in perennial beds. This grass grows at a moderate rate. It reaches maturity at 6 to 8 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide.

Birds enjoy Maiden Grass. It produces fluffy silver feathers that contain tiny seed heads in late summer and fall. This grass pairs well with juniper and catmint. It requires full sun. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.

 ‘Beyond Blue’ Fescue (Festuca glauca)

‘Beyond Blue’ Fescue

‘Beyond Blue’ Fescue is a grass of a different color! Silver-blue with a fine texture, this ornamental grass is small and compact. It is a quick-grower that reaches only about 1 foot tall and wide at maturity. This fescue is a perfect selection for the front-of-the border in perennial beds. It is a stand-out in small spaces, including containers.

Light brown-yellow plumes rise above ‘Beyond Blue’ Fescue in summer. It tolerates heat and humidity well. Pair it with salvia, sedum and yucca. This grass prefers full sun. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.

Silver Variegated Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’)

Silver Variegated Maiden Grass

White-edged, emerald-green leaves bow to the ground and shimmer in the sun. Silver Variegated Maiden Grass produces pink plumes in late summer that fade to its namesake color. Blades turn gold in fall and hold their color through winter. As an alternative to larger shrubs, use this ornamental grass as a landscape screen on both residential and commercial properties.

Silver Variegated Maiden Grass tolerates a variety of soil types and requires no maintenance. Plant measurement at maturity is about 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Cut this grass back to about 5 to 6 inches above soil in late winter to enable new spring growth. Plant in full sun in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 9.

Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana)

Pampas Grass

If you have giant needs for height in the landscape, Pampas Grass slays the stats. With an upright habit at maturity, it stands tall at about 5 to 6 feet. Once its silver plumes stretch skyward, it commands attention at up to 12 feet tall. Gray-green leaves arch from a sturdy mound of foliage. Pampas Grass celebrates fall in multiple hues of orange, gold and caramel.

Use plumes and foliage in cut flower arrangements and holiday decorations. Pampas Grass is easy to grow. As a shrub alternative, consider adding it as a specimen or foundation plant. It is drought and salt tolerant and deer resistant. Pampas Grass grows neither fast nor slow and prefers full sun. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.

Prairie Dropseed Grass (Sporobolus heterolepis)

Prairie Dropseed

If you live in the Midwest, you are likely familiar with Prairie Dropseed. It has a soft, cascading habit and tiny seeds that run up and down its tan flower spikes in mid to late summer. This grass spreads by reseeding itself, making it ideal for natural areas, municipal facilities like train stations and on commercial properties intent on creating a sustainable environment. Songbirds enjoy the seeds in late summer through winter.

This grass is heat and drought tolerant. It adapts to most soil types, especially those that are dry and rocky. Prairie Dropseed flowers and foliage are fragrant. Leaves turn yellow-orange in fall. It is useful in containers as a “spiller.” Height and width at maturity is 3 feet. Prairie Dropseed prefers sun. Plant in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9.

To learn more about our ornamental grasses – as well as all our healthy plants grown for Midwest landscapes – take a look through Loma Vista Nursery’s plant catalog.

Learn More About Plants from Loma Vista Nursery!

Loma Vista Nursery’s staff members are experts in the field. We love helping people learn and understand more about healthy plants that perform well in Midwest landscapes. Feel free to email us at sales@lomavistanursery.com or call us at (785) 229-7200 to get help with your plant-related questions.

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