Chicago gardeners, you see them everywhere in Chicago. Ornamental grasses fill gardens, parks, parkways and street containers. They are eye-catching, easy to grow and require little maintenance. Most people love them.
Ornamental grasses are members of a huge botanical family named POACEAE. The family includes annuals like fountain grass (Pennisetum), or perennials like Hakonechloa, pampas grass (Cortaderia) and sedge (Carex). Grasses can be evergreen or deciduous and grow throughout the planet. Many varieties are used to create lush, green lawns. Others are so spectacular in all four seasons they are encouraged to mature and become focal points in a garden or patio.
The slender leaves of ornamental grasses can be variegated with white stripes or colored yellow, shimmering blue or shades of red or green. Plant stems are round, hollow tubes and evenly jointed by nodes. The feathery, flowering parts consist of delicate spears, clusters of tiny flowers or stalks of petite spikes.
Depending on the variety, grow ornamental grasses in either moist or damp soil of average quality in full sun. You can either sow ripe seed or divide rhizomes in spring or early summer. They require little or no maintenance or fertilizer. Lovely but invasive grasses should be planted in containers, and roots should be trimmed when new growth appears. Plant and trim delicate grasses in spring, and plant container varieties throughout the year. In autumn or early winter, cut perennials to nearly ground level. If they have showy leaves and heads, wait until late winter to trim them.
Gardeners use stunning specimens of ornamental grasses for display indoors and out. They create stunning borders when combined with plants having large leaves. They add interest to cut flower arrangements. They enhance dried flower bouquets.
Live long and well—garden.
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