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Blue grama is a perennial grass from the Americas bearing unusually bent and flattened inflorescences. Being native to open grasslands, they are drought tolerant and at home in meadows. They provide the garden with shades of tan that persist throughout winter.
'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
Northern sea oats is a loosely tufted, clump-forming grass with lance-shaped, arching mid-green foliage that turns yellow in winter. Summer brings highly decorative oat-like panicles of flat, green flowerheads that shimmer and rustle in the wind, aging to bronze by late summer.
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 clumping, drought-tolerant grass is one of the best pampas grasses you could grow. It has the showy, late-summer plumes common to this group, but they grow straight up, not willy-nilly like many other varieties; they eventually stand 4 to 6 feet above the foliage. Even better news is that this cultivar does not set seed, so it is noninvasive. The foliage features distinct golden edges, which, for a grass, usually menas that it loves shade or moisture. But 'Gold Band' tolerates heat and drought, making it great for large containers, and it can handle coastal conditions, too.
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.
A tuft of thin grassy foliage with gray and gold variegation distinguishes this cultivar. Early summer brings 3-foot-tall, airy plumes of tiny flowers that look beautiful when backlit by the sun. As fall approaches, the foliage turns golden with pink-coral tips. This grass even grows well in shadier sites. Plant in a border, woodland garden, or shaded rock garden.
Variegated Japanese silver grass is a boon in any garden where fine texture, a gentle color scheme, and a bit of swaying in the wind are welcome. This grass can be used as a focal point, an anchor plant, or even as a privacy screen.
This elegantly shaped grass has narrow leaves with white mid-ribs and a vase-like form to 6 feet tall. It shows bronze autumn color and can stand throughout winter to provide architectural interest. Tassel-like inflorescences appear in fall and can be used as cut or dried flowers.
This beautiful grass has an "inner light" that emanates from the white midribs of its fine-textured leaf blades and the threads of white around their edges. A graceful shape usually between 5 and 6 feet tall, ‘Morning Light’, turns golden in November and fades to beige in winter.
In autumn, this unique specimen creates a spectacular, billowy inflorescence of massed, vibrant pink, airy flowers on 4-foot stems. It is noted for its tolerance to poorly drained soil. It is possibly hardy to Zone 6 with protection.
This beautiful warm-season grass produces attractive, pale purplish-gray plumes in autumn and goes dormant in the cold season. It forms a neat, upright clump with fine blue-gray foliage.
Panicum Ruby Ribbons’ soft blue-green foliage emerges in the spring on upright, clumping plants. The foliage takes on a wine-red color in early summer, which intensifies as the season progresses. Flower heads appear in late summer, followed by ornamental seed heads, which, if left uncut, provide long-lasting winter interest.
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.
This cultivar of pearl millet has wide, deep purple foliage and stems. It forms a 5-foot-high specimen with tight cylindrical flowers of purple-brown seeds—a favorite of many birds. This plant makes a stunning container specimen. In the mixed border, its foliage contrasts nicely with other plants.
This annual grass produces deep pink flowers that resemble rabbits' tails. Flowers persist throughout the season. It forms a tidy, evergreen clump, 2 feet high and 3 feet wide.
This annual produces deep reddish-black flowers that resemble rabbits' tails. Flowers persist throughout the season. This plant forms an evergreen clump of green foliage with burgundy highlights, 2 feet high and 3 feet wide.
A refreshing new look to an old time favorite ornamental grass! Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ is the first variegated purple fountain grass. The midvein is the typical burgundy color and is flanked by hot pink margins. Produces beautiful red-burgundy foxtail flowers. Great accent plant and excellent in containers. -Santa Rosa Gardens
This tropical annual produces mounds of narrow burgundy-red foliage and purple plumes to 1 foot long. It is invaluable for containers and stunning, annual foliage color in a border. It rarely sets seed.
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.
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
10 Combinations for Shade
The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots
by Inta Krombolz
Bringing Sun and Shade Together
Show off what these extremes have to offer, then unite them with some common ground
by Dan Johnson
Find spots in your garden for plants you thought you couldn’t grow
by Dan Johnson
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
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