Best Ornamental Grasses To Grow In Florida

Ornamental grasses make a great addition to any Florida garden as they are beautiful and easy to grow.

Some of the best ornamental grasses to grow in Florida are Blue love grass, Fakahatchee ​Grass, Fountain grass, Lemon grass, Muhly grass, and Pampas Grass. Although not all of these grasses are native to Florida they are all well adapted to our climate. The best time to plant Ornamental grasses in Florida is the early spring time.

Although these plants are lumped into one category (ornamental grasses), each has its own distinct appearance and character that blend well with any type of landscaping or garden. These easy to care for plants not only produce beautiful flowers or plumes they need little care other than fertilizing and watering.

As a bonus most, ornamental grasses are pest-free, allowing you to enjoy your beautiful plants without worrying about nasty bugs. With so many types, colors, and sizes of ornamental grasses to choose from it can become overwhelming so listed below are our picks for the 6 best ornamental kinds of grass to grow in Florida

Best Ornamental Grasses For Florida

Fountain Grass

Red Fountain Grass, Photo taken at Kerbys nursery

Fountain Grass or Pennisetum is an easy to care for ornamental grass that grows in mounds and produces beautiful leaves that cascade giving the plant its fountain-like appearance.

Fountain grass is a perennial with beautiful flowers that bloom from summer to fall and pink, purple, or tan in color. This ornamental grass comes in a variety of sizes and colors. Fountain grass is exceptionally adaptable and can grow and thrive in a variety of soils, and while it grows best in full sun, it can tolerate areas that have partial shade.

Blue Love Grass

Blue Love Grass or Eragrostis Elliottii is a beautiful ornamental grass that is native to America and displays foliage that is blue-gray in color. Blue love grass can reach a height of 3 feet tall and displays tan flowers the bloom in the summer and can last into the winter months. This Ornamental grass not only grows well in gardens and landscapes it can also be grown in large containers.

Pampas Grass

Pampas grass in bloom

Pampas Grass or Cortaderia is a popular and attractive ornamental grass that grows in clumps and displays beautiful feathery plumes that are creamy white in color. This ornamental grass grows quickly and can reach heights of 10 feet tall and wide.

Pampas grass grows best in full sun, and while it grows best in moist soil, it can tolerate a wide range of soils. This easy to care for ornamental grass requires pruning each year, and if the soil becomes too dry, it will need watering.

Muhly Grass

Pink Muhly Grass, Not in bloom.

Muhly Grass or Muhlenbergia capillaris is native to Florida and is easy to care for. It can be found growing in coastal uplands and pine flatwoods. At maturity, this ornamental grass grows in clumps that reach is 2-3 feet tall and approximately 3 feet wide.

In the fall, this beautiful ornamental grass produces gorgeous flower stalks in varying shades of purple and pink that grow as high as 5 feet. Muhly grass is drought tolerant and grows best in the sun, and its versatility allows for the plant to thrive throughout Florida in stunning gardens or landscaping.

Lemon Grass

Lemon Grass or Cymbogon citratus is a perennial grass that grows in clusters and can grow as high as 10 feet and is often used in cooking or for tea. This ornamental grass grows well in the tropical Florida environment and is easy to care for and thrives in full sun either outside or indoors.

Fakahatchee ​Grass

Fakahatchee grass, photo taken at Kerbys Nursery

Fakahatchee Grass or Tripsacum dactyloides grow well in the Florida climate and can often be found growing wild in wetland areas, including swamps, riverbanks, and hammocks.

This ornamental grass can grow as tall as 6 feet and feature tiny flowers in the spring that can be yellow, white, or pink in color. This perennial grass is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it is easy to maintain and adapts well to both wet and moderately dry soil. Because they grow in clumps, Fakahatchee grass can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion.

Is Fountain Grass Native to Florida?

While Fountain Grass is a popular addition to many Florida landscapes and gardens, it is not native to Florida. Fountain Grass is native to Eastern Asia and Australia and grows wild along streams, meadows, and open woods.

Best Time to Plant Ornamental Grass in Florida

The best time to plant ornamental grasses is in the spring to help ensure the grasses establish a secure root system before winter.

It is essential to make sure you properly prepare the soil before planting your ornamental grass in order to make sure they can grow and thrive. Begin by properly tilling the soil to aid in ease of planting, and if you choose, you can add small amounts of fertilizer at this time to add nutrients to the soil for healthy plant growth.

When and How to Prune Ornamental Grass

Most ornamental grasses are easy to maintain and often display their beautiful flowers and colors during the winter months, so it is crucial to make sure if you decide to prune them that you do so until early spring. Pruning at this time will allow for new growth and will enable you to get rid of any old or unkempt looking growth.

Since many ornamental kinds of grass grow in clumps, it is best to prune them using clippers with a 10-inch blade so you can cut them quicker and easier. Ornamental grasses that are evergreens like Fakahatchee grass, you can remove any old or dead growth by raking through the plant with a rake, pitchfork, or your gloved hands and if it begins to grow too large, it can be cut back once every couple of years.

Fertilizing Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are popular for gardens and landscapes because they are easy to care for and are hardy plants that do not require as much water and nutrients as other types of grasses. While fertilizing is not necessary for proper growth if you would like to fertilize your ornamental grasses it should be done in the following ways:

  • Do not over-fertilize as it can cause ornamental grasses to grow too large and too quickly, making the plant unstable and causing it to lose its aesthetic appeal.
  • It is best to use time-release fertilizer to help ornamental grasses grow a healthy root system.
  • Choose organic fertilizers as they allow plant roots to absorb and are gentle enough for the entire garden.
  • apply it correctly. It is best to apply fertilizer in the spring to aid in new plant growth and should be applied in small amounts in order to help boost root health while not affecting the foliage.
  • When using time-released fertilizers, apply according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Ornamental grasses do not require yearly fertilizer, and if you choose to fertilize, it is only necessary to do so every couple of years.

Common Plants Planted with Ornamental Grass

Ornamental grasses make an excellent addition to any landscaping and garden as they are easy to maintain and grow well with other plants. While many plants look and grow well with ornamental grasses, the first thing you will want to consider is the size of the ornamental grass in relation to the other plants in the garden or landscape.

If you have ornamental grasses that reach over 6 feet in height, then you will want plants that are smaller to balance the aesthetic appeal. You will also want to consider at what time of year your ornamental grasses bloom, and you can choose to have them bloom at the same time for a stunning display or bloom at different times for beauty all year long. Listed below are some common plants planted with ornamental grass:

  • Blazing Star (Liatris)
  • Miss Willmott’s Ghost (Eryngium Giganteum)
  • Red Maltese Cross (Lychnis Chalcedonica)
  • Branched Coneflower (Rudbeckia Triloba)
  • Spider Flower (Cleome Hassleriana)
  • Wine Cups (Callirhoe Involucrata)
  • Sky Blue Aster (Aster Azureus)
  • Balloon Flower (Platycodon Grandiflorus
  • Scarlet Sage (Salvia Coccinea Red)
  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia Aristata)
  • Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea Purpurea)
  • California Poppy (Eschscholzia Californica)
  • Pot Marigold (Calendula Officinalis)
  • Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa Tenuissima)
  • Pansy (Viola Wittrockiana)
  • Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis Rubra)
  • Tussrock Bellflower (Campanula Carpaticea)
  • Sweet Alyssum (Alyssum Maritima)
  • African Daisy (Dimorphotheca aurantiaca)

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I've been gardening in Florida since 2014. I'm an FNGLA certified horticulturist and a Permaculture design apprentice. I just want to share my love and passion of growing plants with other in the state of Florida to help them grow beautiful gardens.

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