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Aug 172012
 
Feather Reed Grass

Feather Reed Grass ‘Karl Foerester’ is popular and hardy. Photo courtesy of Judy Sedbrook

Tall Grasses (greater than 5 feet tall)

Tall grasses make excellent specimen plants and can also be used to hide unattractive landscape features or used as backdrops for shorter grasses, perennials, or annuals. Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) is the stereotypical tall specimen grass, but is not hardy in Idaho. However, there are many tall grasses that will grow in much of Idaho and can provide the same grace, beauty, and landscape features. Tall grasses suitable for planting in Idaho include:

Common Name Scientific Name Regional Adaptation
Big Bluestem Andropogon gerardii N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Flame Grass Miscanthus ‘purpurascens’ N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Giant Silver Grass Miscanthus floridulus N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Hardy Plume Grass Saccharum ravennae N, SW, SC
Maiden Grass Miscanthus sinensis N, SW, SC, SE
Moor Grass Molina caerulea N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Silver Banner Grass Miscanthus sacchariflorus N, SW, SC, SE
Switch Grass (tall varieties) Panicum virgatum N, SW, SC, SE, HA

Blue Oat Grass

Blue Oat Grass is a good border plant. Photo courtesy of Judy Sedbrook

Medium-Sized Grasses (2-5 feet tall)

The medium grasses have many applications in the landscape. They can be used in borders, traditional flower gardens, rock gardens, and mixed plantings. They are tremendously variable in form and function. Medium-sized grasses suitable for Idaho include:

Common Name Scientific Name Regional Adaptation
Alkali Sacaton Sporobolus airoides N, SW, SC, SE
Atlas fescue Festuca mairei N, SW, SC, SE
Blue Wheatgrass Elymus magellanicus N, SW, SC, SE
Fountain Grass Pennisetum alopecuroides N, SW, SC, SE
Indian Grass Sorghastrum nutans N, SW, SC, SE
Korean Feather Reed Grass Stipa brachytricha N, SW, SC, SE
Little Bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Maiden Grass (dwarf varieties) Miscanthus sinensis N, SW, SC, SE
Northern Sea Oats Chasmanthium latifolium N, SW, SC
Reed Grass Calamagrostis x acutifolia N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Side Oats Grama Bouteloua curtipendula N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Switch Grass (short varieties) Panicum virgatum N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Tufted Hair Grass Deschampsia caespitosa N, SW, SC, SE, HA

Little Bluestem

Little Bluestem tolerates minimal irrigation. Photo courtesy of Judy Sedbrook

Short Grasses (<2 feet tall)

Short grasses are effective in traditional flower beds, rock gardens, mixed plantings, naturalized plantings, and containers. Many of the fescues are excellent in water conserving landscapes. Rushes, woodrushes, and sedges are excellent specimens around water gardens or in wet areas. Here is a list of low growing grasses suitable for Idaho:

Common Name Scientific Name Regional Adaptation
Autumn Moor Grass Sesleria autumnalis N, SW, SC, SE
Blue Fescue (many varieties) Festuca glauca N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Blue Grama Bouteloua gracilis N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Blue-Green Moor Grass Sesleria heufleriana N, SW, SC, SE
Blue Hair Grass Koeleria glauca N, SW, SC, SE
Blue Oat Grass Helictotrichon sempervirens N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Golden Foxtail Alopecurus pratensis N, SW, SC, SE
Hedgehog Fescue Festuce punctoria N, SW, SC, SE
Idaho Fescue Festuca idahoensis N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Oriental Fountain Grass Pennisetum orientale N, SW, SC, SE
Prairie Dropseed Sporobolus heterolepsis N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Prairie June Grass Koeleria pyramidata N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Purple Moor Grass Molinia caerulea N, SW, SC, SE
Rush (many forms) Juncus spp. N, SW, SC, SE
Sedge (many forms) Carex spp. N, SW, SC
Tufted Hair Grass (dwarf varieties) Deschampsia caespitosa N, SW, SC, SE, HA
Volga Fescue Festuca valesiaca N, SW, SC, SE
Woodrush Luzula spp. N, SW, SC, SE, HA
 August 17, 2012