Posted by: Jane Rozum, Douglas County Extension
This time of year, while some perennials are looking a bit tired, there's a perennial that is just starting to put on its best show: Ornamental grasses. I’m not talking the cool-season Calamagrostis (feather reed grass) or Festuca (fescue) species, I’m referring to the beauties born on the Great American prairies, the warm-season Panicum (Switchgrass), and Schizachyrium (Little Bluestem) species.
Warm-season grasses wait until the ground warms in late spring to start growing; these grasses are no fools and would never get caught in a late season frost. They grow best and flower during the warmer months of the year; most start flowering in late July and August. They also have an amazing ability to withstand drought better than their cool-season cousins, making them more than worthy for our low water use landscapes in Colorado.
|National Ornamental Grass Trials at Colorado State University|
In 2013, the top performers at CSU included: Switchgrass cultivars ‘Shenandoah’, ‘Northwind’, ‘Thundercloud’ and Little Bluestem cultivar ‘Blue Heaven™’. Who will be a top performer this year? We won’t know until the data is collected later this month, but one thing is certain: these tough and beautiful grasses definitely will have a place in future low-water landscapes in Colorado.
|Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'|
|S.s 'Blue Heaven'|
For more information on the National Ornamental Grass Trials, visit the blog @ www.grasstrials.com