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The Joy of Ornamental Grasses

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The Joy of Ornamental Grasses
Fall is a wonderful time for ornamental grasses. One that has drawn attention at the Kemper Center for Home Gardening all summer has been Pennisetum 'Tift 10' FIRST KNIGHT. Its dark purple foliage is almost black and is striking by itself or in combination with other plants. It is not winter hardy in St. Louis but can be grown as an annual where it will grow 4-6 feet tall by the end of summer. In zones 7-11 it is perennial. It was the result of a planned breeding program at the University of Georgia.

There are also many other ornamental grasses that make excellent, perennial additions to St. Louis gardens that are both attractive and very low maintenance. A few excellent choices are: feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'), eulalie grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'), switch grass (Panicum virgatum 'Cloud Nine'), fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln'), and prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). For a very dramatic grass flowering at a height of up to 12 feet tall consider plume grass (Saccharum ravennae).

To learn more about excellent grasses for a St. Louis garden go to our Visual Guide Best Ornamental Grasses and Vines. The guide lists 18 species of grasses recommended for the St. Louis area. You can see these species and many cultivars of these species growing at the Garden. Come and record your favorites now while they are in their full glory for spring purchase and planting.
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