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Feather Reed Grass
While other ornamental grasses tend to arch outward, feather reed grass forms dense, erect clumps of narrow green leaves that send up stiff flowering stalks in summer. That means this ornamental grass adds a stunning vertical architectural element to a landscape, even in winter. Industrial areas like street medians and parking lots often feature this plant because it’s easy to grow and doesn’t require much maintenance to retain its sculpted appearance. As an added plus, hybrid varieties of this grass (C. x acutifolia) produce sterile seeds, which means the plants can’t become invasive. What they will become is tall; with some varieties, leaves reach up to 3 feet tall, and their feathery plumes rise another 5 feet.
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Part Sun, Sun
3 to 8 feet
From 1 to 2 feet
garden plans for Feather Reed Grass
Feather reed grass's tall, narrow stalks look best mixed in among other perennials and even other grasses. When this plant's foliage first forms in the spring, the green leaves form small clumps. (The leaves of variegated varieties may feature margins, stripes, or centers of white or cream.) As the summer season begins, tall spires of narrow blossoms appear in shades of tan, green, white, and sometimes pink, depending on the variety. The narrow blossoms open slightly to become feathery plumes of seed heads in the fall that wave softly in the breeze—and look great in cut-flower arrangements. The plants will often hold onto the plumes past fall, which adds wonderful winter interest to a garden.
Feather Reed Grass Care Must-Knows
Feather reed grass is one of few ornamental grasses that tolerates moist to almost wet soils. This makes these plants a great option for rain gardens or boggy areas. Plant this grass in well-drained, fertile, rich soil that remains consistently moist. Once established, feather reed grass can tolerate occasional droughts. As a cool-season grass, this plant may appreciate some afternoon shade if grown in a warm, southern climate. Too much shade, however, will cause floppiness.
Because of its sturdy upright growth, feather reed grass adds a dramatic accent to winter landscapes—especially when its plumes are left intact. If so, prune back the foliage in late winter or early spring. Divide this grass in early spring, if desired, just as new growth emerges.
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' is a variety of feather reed grass, was named perennial plant of the year in 2001. Since then there have been further introductions with similar habits and the added benefit of variegated foliage.