Phalaris arundinacea var. picta 'Feesey'
Common Name: reed canary grass 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: White to pale pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Drought, Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, dry to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Wide range of soil tolerance from wet (will grow in several inches of water) to dry, clay to sand or acidic to alkaline. When grown as a ground cover, 4 plants per square yard will be sufficient to quickly fill in such an area. Rhizomatous. Propagate by division in spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phalaris arundinacea, commonly called reed canary grass, is an upright, rhizomatous, cool season perennial grass which typically grows to 3-6' tall. It is native to North America, Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is a wetland species that is found throughout Missouri on stream banks, pond/lake margins, marshes, fens, and bottomland prairies plus disturbed sites including roadsides, ditches, railroad right-of-ways and pastures (Steyermark). European genotypes are reportedly more aggressive and invasive than North American genotypes. Flat, green leaf blades (to 8-16" long and 2/3" wide) are attractive from spring to early summer, but tend to brown up as the summer progresses. Airy panicles (to 6-12" long) of greenish white to pale pink flowers bloom above the foliage in early summer (June-July). Flowers are conspicuous but not particularly showy. Stems are sometimes hollow, giving it a bamboo-like quality. Sometimes commonly called ribbon grass or gardener's garters.

Var. picta has variegated leaves.

Genus name comes from the Greek name for a grass of this genus.

Specific epithet means resembling a reed.

'Feesey' is similar to 'Picta' but has more white in the leaves and is somewhat smaller and less invasive. Also sold as 'Feesey's Form', 'Feesey's Variety' or 'Mervyn Feesey'.


No serious insect or disease problems. Extremely invasive spreader that is difficult to eradicate once established because any tiny segment of root or rhizome left behind can sprout and spread. Use of soil barriers should be considered at the time of planting to prevent rhizomes from traveling into unwanted areas.


Probably not a good candidate for the border because of the aforementioned invasive characteristics. Will quickly colonize and serve as a dense, weed-free ground cover in areas where invasiveness in not a concern. Effective in boggy areas, in water gardens (submerged in several inches of water) or in wet areas along streams or ponds where it also can help stabilize banks. Also effective in dry locations, including desert gardens, where it is somewhat less invasive.