Variegated Ribbon Grass

This tough plant adds color and texture, but can become invasive.

Variegated Ribbon Grass Overview

Description If you're looking for an easy-to-maintain plant, go for variegated ribbon grass. It needs little care while adding color and texture wherever you plant it. Plus it grows incredibly fast, making it a top choice for filling in empty garden space. Variegated ribbon grass is fairly hardy and adapts to most growing conditions. However, it can become overly aggressive so plant where you can keep it contained.
Genus Name Phalaris arundinacea 'Picta'
Common Name Variegated Ribbon Grass
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Shade, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Flower Color Green, Pink
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Special Features Cut Flowers, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Colorful Combinations

Variegated ribbon grass is a versatile plant that brings color and texture to both containers and garden plots. While its narrow, lance-shaped foliage stays on the short side, it has a spreading habit that can give it the appearance of bamboo. The foliage adds movement to a garden, as it gently sways in the breeze. Since this grass seldom blooms, it's most commonly grown for its foliage. If it does bloom, the flowers are insignificant, forming light and wiry panicles.

Variegated Ribbon Grass Care

Variegated ribbon grass thrives in almost all conditions. It's happy growing in anything from shallow standing water to dry, sandy clay. The plant is slightly less aggressive when grown in drier conditions, but can still quickly take over a garden area if left unchecked.

One benefit of this aggressive grower is that it can be used to stabilize riverbanks and other wetland areas. But beware—you could be introducing an invasive species that will quickly choke out native plants. Variegated ribbon grass is spread underground by vigorous rhizomes, so it can be challenging to completely weed them out where they aren't wanted.

Much like their ability to grow in any soil condition, variegated ribbon grass grows in any lighting condition. It typically grow best in full to part sun, and is harder to establish when planted in full shade. Growing in full sun and dry conditions can lead to leaf scorch in the summer months.

Variegated Ribbon Grass Companion Plants

Black-Eyed Susan

black-eyed susan
Perry L. Struse

Add a pool of sunshine to the garden with a massed planting of black-eyed Susan. From midsummer, these hardy native plants bloom their golden heads off in both sun and light shade, and they mix well with other perennials, annuals, and shrubs. Tall varieties look especially appropriate among shrubs, which in turn provide support. Add black-eyed Susans to wildflower meadows or native plant gardens for a natural look. Average soil is sufficient, but it should be able to hold moisture fairly well.

Perennial Sunflowers

perennial sunflower
David Speer

Probably one of the most-loved flowers, sunflowers are a long-time favorite for borders and for bouquets, thanks to their huge blossoms. While not quite as large as its annual cousin, the perennial sunflower makes up for what it lacks in size with loads of blossoms in late summer and into fall.


Iris Immortality
Dean Schoeppner

Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, irises indeed come in a rainbow of colors and in many heights. All have the classic, intricate flowers, which are constructed with three upright ″standard″ petals and three drooping ″fall″ petals, which are often different colors. The falls may be ″bearded" or not. A number of cultivars bloom a second time in late summer. Some species prefer alkaline soil while others prefer acidic soil.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles