Bamboo

Ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses have become hugely popular over the past few years. They require very little maintenance and are resistant to pests and diseases. There is a wide variety of ornamental grasses in terms of location, habit, blade, leaf colour, height, …

General: pruning ornamental grasses

Deciduous ornamental grasses must be cut to 15-20 cm from the ground in the spring. Evergreen ornamental grasses should be tidied up in the spring. Simply pull out any dead and unsightly foliage from the clump by hand.

General: caring for ornamental grasses

Spring is the best time to move or transplant ornamental grass, provided that there is no longer any risk of frost. Water the grass generously after transplanting.

Ornamental grasses can be planted from spring to late autumn, except during dry or frosty spells.

Here is a small list of grasses that feature regularly in our range.

Calamagrostis or reed grass

Calamagrostis is a medium to high ornamental grass with a beautiful, sleek, vertical habit. It has very striking flowering panicles that appear in the summer. They stay upright throughout the growing season and turn into a straw yellow in winter.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ grows quite high – up to 1.50-1.80 m – and reaches about 60 cm wide. This variety starts to bloom quite early (June-July-August). The narrow, elegant, beige, purplish spikes start to appear in late June already. By the end of August, the flowering panicles fade to a golden brown. The feathers stay upright well into the winter and create an attractive winter silhouette. You can add quite a lot of height to a border by planting Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ in small groups.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ grows up to 1 to 1.30 m and is therefore well suited for smaller gardens. The lovely variegated foliage features green leaves with white margins. This species has purple-brown spikes that turn a golden yellow later in the year. They remain decorative well into the winter.

Pruning

Calamagrostis should be cut back to 10-20 cm from the ground after the winter, right before the new growing season starts.

Care

Calamagrostis can be planted from spring until the beginning of autumn and can be transplanted in the spring. You can plant about 7 plants per square metre.

You can give your Calamagrostis some DCM organic fertiliser for ornamental grasses and bamboo. If you want to work the soil first, you can mix in some universal soil improver.

  • Position: full sun/partial shade
  • Soil: well-drained soil
  • Flowering time: July to October
  • Height: depending on the variety
  • Evergreen: no
  • Hardy: yes

Carex or sedges

Carex is usually low growing and requires little maintenance. It is excellent as ground cover. The flowering spikes of carex are barely noticeable. Carex is mainly planted for its beautiful foliage in a wide variety of leaf colours.

Carex morrowii has a fine, green leaf and grows up to 20-30 cm high. Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ is characterised by its striking, wide, creamy-white striped leaf (height 35-40 cm). It is often planted as ground cover.

Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’ has a somewhat narrower creamy-white leaf edge and grows up to 40 cm high.

The leaves of Carex oshimensis are green and shiny.

Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ is also very useful. The leaf is very striking with its dark green edge and central stripe, which turns from a creamy white to a creamy yellow. It blooms in May with small, brown spikes. This variety is perfect to brighten some darker areas in your garden.

Pruning

Carex does not require pruning in the spring. You can pull out any unsightly, brown or loose leaves by hand in early spring, just before the new growth starts.

Planting

Carex can be planted from late spring until the beginning of autumn. If you are planting carex as ground cover, keep a distance of 20 to 25 cm between plants.

Carex is easy to transplant. The best time to move the plants is early spring.

  • Position: full sun/partial shade
  • Soil: moist, well-drained soil
  • Flowering time: May-July
  • Height: depending on the variety
  • Evergreen: yes
  • Hardy: yes

Festuca, fescue grass or sheep’s fescue

Fescue is an easy, low-growing, evergreen ornamental grass that requires little maintenance. Fescue is perfect as ground cover, suitable for mass planting and can be planted in a pot.

Festuca glauca has striking, narrow, blue-tinted foliage and keeps its colour throughout the winter. In the summer, Festuca glauca blooms with flowering spikes, which are first the same colour as the grass itself and then turn a straw yellow.

Beautiful, good, deep blue varieties are Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ and Festuca glauca ‘Intense Blue’. Both grow up to about 40 cm high. Festuca gautieri stays very small: it does not grow more than 20 cm high. Its habit is a somewhat stiff and its clump is neat and tight. Its green-tinted foliage feels like tiny needles. In June and July, small green spikes appear from the clump, which turn a golden yellow later in the season.

Pruning

Festuca glauca does not need to be cut and is best ‘combed’. You can pull out any unsightly, brown or loose dead foliage with your hands in early spring, just before new growth starts. You can do the same with Festuca gautieri.

After the winter, these varieties can be cut back to 20 cm.

Care

This grass species can be planted from spring to early autumn, but not during dry or frosty spells.

If you are planting Festuca glauca as ground cover, keep a distance of 20 cm between plants. This means there should be 7 to 9 plants per square metre.

If you would like to transplant your Festuca glauca, you can do so in early spring, late summer and early autumn.

  • Position: full sun/light shade
  • Soil type: dry, well-drained soil
  • Flowering: from May to July
  • Height: depending on the species
  • Evergreen: yes
  • Hardy: yes

Cortaderia selloana or pampas grass

Cortaderia selloana, commonly known as pampas grass, has sharp leaves, so make sure to wear gloves when handling this plant.

Pampas grass grows up to 2.40 m high and 1.50 m wide and needs plenty of space in the garden to really come into its own. This impressive grass produces spectacular, creamy white flowering panicles in August-October. The plumes stay beautiful well into winter. It is best to plant only one per square metre. After the winter, they should be cut back to 50 cm.

Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’ is low-growing, stays more compact and flowers profusely. It has silver, creamy, yellow plumes and grows up to 1.20 m high and 1.25 m wide.

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: well-drained soil
  • Height: depending on the species
  • Width: depending on the species
  • Evergreen: yes
  • Hardy: yes.

Miscanthus sinensis or Chinese silver grass

Miscanthus sinensis is a high growing, pollen-forming ornamental grass with cane-like stems and narrow leaves with white mid-ribs. This ornamental grass starts growing in the spring, but as the summer progresses and temperatures increase, it grows much faster. Miscanthus sinensis blooms with beautiful, upright panicles in August and September. The flowering panicles are first reddish brown and then turn silver later in the autumn. The green leaves also change to a golden yellow in the autumn. In winter, the leaves of the Miscanthus sinensis finally die back slowly.

The beautiful, compact Miscanthus s. ‘Ferner Osten’ reaches a height of 1.50-1.70 m and a width of about 60 cm. This species blooms with deep red flower spikes with white tips. Miscanthus s. ‘Malepartus’ reaches a height of 2 m and blooms early. Another extremely striking variety, Miscanthus s. ‘Zebrinus’, also reaches 2 m. Its leaf has very irregular, pale yellow stripes and its flowering panicles are brown.

Miscanthus x giganteus differs from Miscanthus sinensis in terms of size and its strongly vertical habit with little outward lean. This impressive miscanthus easily reaches a height of 3 to 3.50 m and a width of over 1 m and therefore requires a lot of space. It is most suitable for large gardens.

Pruning

Miscanthus sinensis and other miscanthus should be cut back to 10-20 cm from the ground in late spring. The ornamental grass’ flowering plumes can then be removed.

Care

Miscanthus can be planted from late spring until the beginning of autumn. Miscanthus is easy to transplant. It is best to transplant your Miscanthus in late spring.

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: well drained soil
  • Height: depending on the species
  • Width: depending on the species
  • Evergreen: no
  • Hardy: yes

Stipa or feather grass

Stipa is a beautiful grass that grows in a clump of foliage and prefers dry, sunny spots. There are high and low species.

Stipa gigantea is the biggest of all stipa varieties.

Care

It is best to plant Stipa gigantea and Stipa tenuissima in late spring. Both ornamental grasses are also easy to transplant. Again, the best time to do this is late spring.

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: well-drained soil
  • Flowering time: July-August
  • Height: depending on the species
  • Evergreen: semi-evergreen
  • Hardy: yes

Stipa gigantea or giant feather grass

Stipa gigantea is a beautiful, decorative, thin, ornamental grass that brings some serious height to a border. It is more than 2.50 m high and 1.20 m wide. The grey-green foliage of this ornamental grass is almost evergreen and grows up to about 60 cm long. In June – July, large flowering panicles emerge from the clump. The plumes can grow up to 2 m long and as the season continues, they arch more and more.

During planting, keep a 1 m distance between plants.

Pruning

Stipa gigantea should be cut back to 10-20 cm from the ground in late February, early March.

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: well-drained soil
  • Height: 2.50 m
  • Width: 1.20 m
  • Evergreen: yes
  • Hardy: yes

Stipa tenuissima or Mexican feather grass

Stipa tenuissima has a special, elegant habit. The light green foliage is finely structured. In the summer, narrow, silver green blades appear, which fade to a straw yellow in winter. Stipa tenuissima’s low height makes it suitable for smaller gardens. It is a very graceful grass that really comes into its own in groups. It grows to about 60 cm high and 30 cm wide.

Pruning

In late February, early March, extract all loose and dead leaves from the clump with a fine rake. You can also pull out the dead leaves with your hands.

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: well-drained soil
  • Height: 60 cm
  • Width: 30 cm
  • Evergreen: semi-evergreen
  • Hardy: yes

Panicum virgatum or switchgrass

Panicum virgatum is a medium grass often showing a compact habit. It remains attractive well into winter. Some varieties have blue and purple-red leaves. Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ has steely, blue-grey foliage and blooms with tall, finely branched panicles of small spikelets. In autumn the leaves take on a yellow colour. This ornamental grass grows 1.20 m high and 75 cm wide.

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: well-drained soil
  • Height: 1.20 – 1.60 m
  • Width: 0.75 cm
  • Evergreen: no
  • Hardy: yes

Pennisetum or fountain grass

Pennisetum is a very popular, attractive ornamental grass that is particularly appreciated for its decorative, bushy plumes. It is a true ornament for the garden. Most species have narrow, green leaves that gracefully arch from the clump. The well-known brush-like flowering spikes appear at the end of summer and give the grass its eye-catching appearance for several months. It takes the fountain grass until late autumn to turn golden yellow.

Pennisetum alopecuroides is an excellent, popular variety that grows 0.70 – 1.20 m high and 1 m wide. This type of grass grows well in the sun and in partial shade. It comes into its own best in groups, but you can also keep it in a pot.

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ does not grow quite so high and is very suitable for borders. It reaches a height of 60- 80 cm and has a nice, compact growth habit. Its bushy spikes are first yellow-green and later fade to brown. In a group, the recommended planting distance is 45 cm, so 3 to 5 per square metre. Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Little Bunny’ is very suitable for small gardens and grows up to 50 cm high.

Unlike the above varieties, Pennisetum setaceum is not hardy. Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ has bronze red foliage. Its flower spikes have a beautiful purple-red colour and grow to about 30 cm long. The grass itself reaches about 1 m.

Pruning

Pennisetum should be cut back to 10-20 cm from the ground in late spring.

Care

Pennisetum can be planted from late spring to the beginning of autumn, except during very dry periods or in frosty conditions. You can easily move or transplant Pennisetum. The best time to do this is in late spring.

  • Position: full sun/partial shade
  • Soil: well-drained soil
  • Height: depending on the species
  • Width: depending on the species
  • Evergreen: no
  • Hardy: yes (except the setaceum)

Molinia caerulea or purple moor grass

Molinia caerulea is a gorgeous ornamental grass that produces tall, sturdy flower blades. It comes in high and low varieties.

Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’ is a low variety with striking, colourful foliage. It has clear green and cream variegated leaves. In August – October, its yellow stems flaunt purplish flower spikes and in autumn the plant takes on a straw-like colour. This species is 40-60 cm high and 30 cm wide.

  • Position: full sun/partial shade
  • Soil: well drained soil
  • Height: depending on the species
  • Width: depending on the species
  • Evergreen: no
  • Hardy: yes

Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ or Japanese blood grass

The colour of the Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ is unique. In late spring, when the grass is growing, the colour is not that special: the flat leaves are a soft green. However, during the summer, the tips of this ornamental grass turn bright red. To achieve this intense red colour, it is important to make sure the plant is in a sunny spot. In summer, Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ also produces small, silvery plumes. In winter, the grass dies back slowly.

Pruning

The grass should be cut back to 10-20 cm from the ground in late spring.

Planting

It is best to plant this ornamental grass in late spring. Transplanting is easy and is best done in late spring.

Winter care

Imperata c. ‘Red Baron’ is a little sensitive to frost. In case of moderate to severe frost, it is advisable to cover the grass. Apply a thick layer of straw or shredded leaves around the plant’s base.

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: well-drained soil
  • Flowering period: August – September
  • Height: 40-60 cm
  • Width: 30 cm
  • Evergreen: no
  • Hardy: somewhat frost sensitive

Luzula nivea or snow rush

This grass species is perfect for shady areas in the garden and requires soil that is moist, but not too rich. Snow rush has a soft green colour and grows 50 to 80 cm tall.

Bamboo

Bamboo is a rewarding evergreen plant that grows quite quickly and develops firm, almost impenetrable plant clumps. This is not a problem if the bamboo species does not have a tendency to spread.

Running types grow very rapidly and can cover a very large part of the garden in just a few years. This is also something the neighbours do not always appreciate.

Bamboo’s tendency to spread rather than stay in nice, tight clumps depends on the species:

  • Fargesia is an example of a non-invasive bamboo.
  • Running bamboo species include Phyllostachys, Semiarundinaria, Pseudosasa and Indocalamus.

In Western Europe, the hardy Fargesia is the most suitable species for gardens without too many problems. The Fargesia has fine, pale green leaf stalks and the new branches always emerge very close to the mother plant. They are ideal plants for creating an evergreen bamboo hedge and require little maintenance.

If you go for an invasive type of bamboo, you need to dig in rhizome barriers down to at least 65 cm deep when planting your shrubbery. It is also advisable to have your rhizomes barriers protruding from the ground by a few centimetres to ensure that any rhizomes growing on the boundary can be removed. Ensure there is sufficient overlap where two rhizome barriers are joined and screw the panels/barriers together well. Do not use hessian sacking, pond liner, concrete edging or any other material to stop invasive bamboo.

For your information, bamboo roots are called rhizomes, hence the name ‘rhizome barrier’.

When radical solutions are required to remove your bamboo, herbicides can help control the problem. However, bamboo is a grass species, and therefore also requires other, non-chemical removal methods.

Excavation will probably be the only eco-friendly way to keep invasive bamboo under control. The smaller species tend to colonise surrounding areas with thin rhizomes that grow new shoots. You will have to sever and remove all the rhizomes to stop the remaining sections from growing. Then you need to deplete the plant by cutting the canes very close to the ground regularly.