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'Pawnee' has an upright habit and warm fall colors that persist into winter. This refined offbig bluestem has the bluish purple stems typical of the genus. In late summer, Purplish red flowers appear in groups of three or six, which look like a turkey foot—hence the nickname: "Turkey Foot Grass." The root system that can extend down more than 10 feet. Each year, a third of these roots die, opening up channels for water. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
'Hachita' has narrow, blue-green leaves that form dense mounds. In summer, elongated seedheads add visual interest. This tough, drought-tolerant grass thrives in sand or clay soil with full-sun exposure. It needs a setting with good drainage, as it won't thrive in wet conditions. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
This stunning grass has 1- to 3-foot-long, densely tufted plumes atop tall, upright stalks and arching mid-green leaves. Plumes come in white, cream, or beige-pink and appear in late summer.
This dwarf cultivar has mid-green leaves and densely tufted plumes atop tall, upright stalks and arching mid-green leaves. Masses of silvery yellow plumes appear in late summer.
Regarded by some as the bluest blue fescue, this plant forms compact, cascading mounds of foot-tall, intensely blue, narrow leaves that are attractive in all seasons. Blooms are generally secondary to the foliage, but this cultivar blooms more heavily than most, with spikelets in summer. This cultivar is long-lived and very hardy. Grow in groups in a border or rock garden, or as a groundcover.
'Prairie Fire' is a distinctly red form of switchgrass. Blue-green spring foliage turns shades of deep red by early summer and butter yellow in late fall. The grass persists into winter. 'Prairie Fire' has a fibrous root system that grows to more than 10 feet deep, making it drought tolerant. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
'Shenandoah' is truly a plant for all seasons. In early summer, its leaf blades are tipped in red, and by autumn, the entire leaf is a rich burgundy color, topped by pink plumes. In winter, the leaf color fades to beige; the blades persist and offer cover to birds. 'Shenandoah' is a compact selection of an American native prairie grass. -Chris Kelley, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
This rhizomatous perennial grass has a narrowly upright, clumping form. Mid-green stems bear stiff, erect, blue-gray leaves to 24 inches long. Foliage turns yellow in autumn. Weeping panicles of tiny purple-green spikes appear in early autumn.
This species produces 2- to 5-foot-tall mounds of narrow green foliage and bottle brush-like silvery-pink to purple flowers, both of which mature to shades of brown. It is the parent of numerous cultivars with notable flowers that range from purple to gray/black. It and some of its cultivars self-sow plentifully in warm climates. It is marginally hardy in Zone 5.
Native to South Africa, this non-invasive evergreen species produces showy pink flowers in spring, which are held 2 to 3 feet above the foliage on stiff, wiry stalks.
Dwarf white-stripe has 5-inch-long, upward-pointing green leaves strongly variegated with white. It grows up to 3 feet tall in either sun or shade, forming a striking contrast to less flamboyant neighbors.
In late summer, this large, clump-forming species bears huge plumes of delicate pink flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver.
This large, clump-forming grass has linear leaves with central white stripes. In late summer it bears huge, purplish-bronze flower clusters, which eventually fade to silver. It resents high fertility and shows considerable drought tolerance.
Little bluestem is a tidy, finely textured clumping grass with a blue-green summer color. Its silvery seed heads rise to a height of nearly 2 feet in late summer and are at their best when backlit in the morning or afternoon sun. In fall, the grass turns a rosy rust color that lasts all winter.
Golden yellow plumes and a vase-like form give 'Indian Steel' a refined look. On the flower spikes, bright yellow pollen sacs stand out against the darker seed heads. Metallic blue foliage morphs to a coppery tan shade after frost. 'Indian Steel' tolerates a range of soil types, including heavy clay. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124
The finely textured, green leaves of this slow-growing, clump-forming perennial turn golden yellow in autumn. It bears cloudy panicles of fragrant, pale-pink to tawny flowers 5 to 10 inches long in late summer, reaching 3 feet tall.
This evergreen species makes a handsome specimen with narrow, arching foliage that is streaked orange in summer and becomes orange-brown in winter. Its fine, pendent flower inflorescences open purplish-green in midsummer and have a misty quality.
This semi-evergreen species makes a stately, stand-alone specimen with narrow, arching foliage and shimmering gold panicles that reach 8 feet tall. The flowers open in June as silvery-purple and mature to shades of wheat.
No other grass exhibits quite the refinement of texture as this species. Its bright green foliage resembles delicate filaments that arise in elegant, vase-like clumps and spill outward like a soft fountain. All summer it bears a profusion of feathery panicles, which mature from foamy-green to blonde. It is native to the Americas.
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
How to Prune Conifers
These plants are unforgiving, so make the right cuts for the right reasons
by Bert Cregg
VIDEO Potting Soil Recipe for Woody Plants and Perennials
This long-lasting mixture is the perfect medium for long-term plants
by Rita Randolph
Q&A Growing in the wind
by Tim Boland
Fir vs. Spruce vs. Pine: How to tell them apart
by Steve Aitken
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