Ornamental Grasses for the Midwest

Editor's note
The following abstract describes a publication that is only available for purchase. A link to ordering information is on this page.

North Central Regional Publication
Originally published by Iowa State University, this publication has been adapted for regional distribution

Grasses are a great landscape tool. This guide covers the design aspects, as well as practical guidelines for ornamental grasses. Dozens of grasses are outlined by hardiness, soil preference, propagation methods and plant height. A color photo with each description helps you picture the grass as well.

Practical tips given include how to transplant and divide grasses. A table in the back provides both common and botanical names for each grass and divides them into categories of common design use (i.e. for borders, alone, dried flowers, groundcovers, etc.).


  • Autumn moor grass (Sesleria autumnalis)
  • Barley (Hordeum vulgare)
  • Big bluestem, Turkeyfoot (Andropogon gerardii)
  • Blue grama, Mosquito grass (Bouteloua gracilis)
  • Blue lyme grass (Elymus arenarius)
  • Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens)
  • Blue wild rye (Elymus glaucus)
  • Canadian wild rye (Elymus canadensis)
  • Canary grass (Phalaris canariensis)
  • Feather-reed grass (Calamagrostis xacutiflora 'Karl Foerster')
  • Fescue (Festuca spp.)
  • Foxtail millet (Setaria italica)
  • Gardening
  • Giant blue wild rye, Siberian wild rye (Elymus giganteus)
  • Hair grass (Aira capillaris pulchella)
  • Hairy melic grass (Melica ciliata)
  • Hardy pampas grass Ravenna grass (Erianthus ravennae)
  • Herb gardening
  • Indian grass, Wood grass (Sorghastrum avenaceum)
  • Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica)
  • Japanese silver grass, Eulalia grass (Miscanthus sinensis)
  • Large blue hair grass (Koeleria glauca)
  • Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
  • Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus')
  • Mare's tail grass (Lagurus ovatus)
  • Mosquito grass (Bouteloua gracilis)
  • Northern sea oats, Wild oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Perennial fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
  • Planting ornamental grasses
  • Purple moor grass (Molinia caterulea)
  • Quaking grass (Briza media)
  • Ravenna grass, Hardy pampas grass (Erianthus ravennae)
  • Red switch-grass (Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbush')
  • Reed canary grass
  • Ribbon grass (Phalaris arundinacea var. picta)
  • Selection of grasses
  • Sideoats grama
  • Tall grama grass (Bouteloua curtipendula)
  • Striped eulalia grass (Miscantus sinensis 'Variegatus')
  • Switch-grass (Panicum virgatum)
  • Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia caespitosa)
  • Variegated bulbous oat grass (Arrhenatherum elatius subsp. bulbosium 'Variegatum')
  • Variegated moor grass (Molinia vaerulea 'Variegata')
  • Variegated prairie cord grass (Spartina pectinata 'Aureomarginata')
  • Velvet grass
  • Yorkshire fog (Holcus lanatus)
  • Virginia wild rye (Elymus virginicus)
  • Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis var. zebrinum)


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