#TeachingTuesday: Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses are a very large and diverse group of plants. A few examples are maiden grass (Miscanthus spp.), fountaingrass (Pennisetum spp.), switchgrass or panicgrass (Panicum spp.), muhly grass (Muhlenbergia spp.), and Mexican feather grass (Nasella tenuissima). Ornamental grasses provide a wide range of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures to add to the landscape, and they look great almost all year, with just a brief rest period in the late winter after they are cut back. One of the most elements that grasses can add to a design is movement—when the wind blows through them, it creates an image almost like flowing water. In the fall when they go dormant, they turn a light tan or golden color, but typically maintain a nice shape unless they get beaten down by excessive rain or snow.
Almost all ornamental grasses prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They will not tolerate wet soils, and if they receive too much shade, they will flop over and eventually die. However, in the right location grasses are unbeatable performers, with few pest and disease problems. They do not typically need fertilizer, and in fact, too much fertilizer will cause them to flop over like shade.