Festuca 'Cool as Ice'
Common Name: tall fescue 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Green fading to light brown
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Ground Cover
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Deer, Drought

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade, but best foliage color is in full sun. Tolerant of drought and poor soils. Intolerant of wet, poorly-drained soils. Foliage is semi-evergreen. In St. Louis, the foliage may retain good color in mild winters, but clumps will show considerable browning in harsh winters. Clumps tend to die out in the center and need to be divided and replanted or replaced every 2-3 years. Cut back foliage in early spring to 3-4" to tidy clumps and to facilitate emergence of the new leaf blades. Clumps may decline in hot, humid summers, and should be cut back if such occurs. Mass densely (plant 8-10" apart) when planting as a ground cover since clumps do not spread outward very much and weeds may grow between clumps if spaced too far apart. May be grown from seed, but variations in foliage color often occur.

The light colored foliage gives the plant superior heat tolerance, and prefers to be in a sunny, dry site with well-draining soil. Although ‘Cool as Ice’ is listed as being hardy in zones 4-8, it is not always reliable in the St. Louis home garden. Proper location selection is key.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Festuca glauca, commonly called blue fescue, is a short-lived, low-growing, semi-evergreen, clump-forming ornamental grass noted for its glaucous, finely-textured, blue-gray foliage. Foliage forms a dome-shaped, porcupine-like tuft of erect to arching, needle-like blades radiating upward and outward to a height of 6-8" (inflorescences typically bring total clump height to 10-14"). Light green flowers with a purple tinge appear in terminal panicles atop stems rising above the foliage in late spring to early summer, but inflorescences are not very showy. Flowers give way to buffy seed heads which some gardeners find attractive but others find detractive to both the symmetry of the plant and the foliage color. Synonymous with Festuca ovina var. glauca and Festuca ovina 'Glauca'.

Genus name comes from the Latin word meaning a grass stalk or straw.

Specific epithet means with a white, powdery coating.

'Cool as Ice' emerges a grey-green in the spring, but quickly turns steely blue.

Problems

Plants are short lived and require frequent division. Plant foliage may decline considerably in hot, humid summers.

Garden Uses

Compact and versatile ornamental grass that may be used as an edging plant for borders or path, a ground cover for small areas, or as an accent in rock gardens and border fronts. Mixes well with other ornamental grasses.