Best Ornamental Grasses

Graceful and fluid, ornamental grasses not only offer year-round appeal, they add a sense of movement and soothing sound to a landscape as well. Beautiful in the spring, summer, and fall, many believe they are at their best when providing seasonal interest and beauty in the winter garden. Ornamental grasses are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they are suitable for specimen plants or can also be used as screens and hedges.  

Below is a list of Missouri Botanical Garden staff favorites for a St. Louis landscape. These have been identified to be the lowest maintenance and the most ornamental of their respective groups. 

 

Annual
Cymbopogon citratus
lemon grass

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet

Melinus nerviglumus 'Savannah'
ruby grass​

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Height: 0.50 to 1.50 feet

Melinis nerviglumis 'Pink Crystals'
ruby grass​

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet

 
Pennisetum purpureum 'Prince'
elephant grass​

Annual

Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 4.00 to 5.00 feet

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet

Perennials
Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'
blue grama

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Height: 0.75 to 2.50 feet

Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Avalanche'
feather reed grass 

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet

Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
feather reed grass 

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet

Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Overdam'
feather reed grass 

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Height: 2.50 to 3.00 feet

Eragrostis spectabilis
purple lovegrass

Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet

Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'
Japanese forest grass​

Ornamental grass

Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Ginger Love'
fountain grass
Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'
fountain grass
Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Height: 1.50 to 2.50 feet

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Red Rocket'
fountain grass
Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Height: 2.50 to 3.00 feet

Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues'
little bluestem​
Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet

Schizachyrium scoparium 'Standing Ovation'
little bluestem​
Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet

Sporobolus heterolepis
prairie dropseed 
Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet

Muhlenbergia capillaris
pink muhlygrass​ 
Ornamental grass

Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 fee