Ornamental Grass Companion Plants

What to Plant with Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grass Companion Plants-red-fountain-grass
Red fountain grass

Ornamental grasses have made a name for themselves in the landscape and garden industry, there are said to be more than” 30 species of these grasses ” which you can choose from. It’s’ believed that the popularity of ornamental grasses arose first in Germany during the mid-1930, what I love about ornamental grasses is their low-maintenance withstanding drought conditions once established along with their cold tolerance.

I have worked with many of these grasses some of which include, white fountain grass, the red fountain grass which is my favorite, muhly grass, etc.. fountain grasses are known to be perennials because they grow from year to year. These garden beauties can be seen planted in many home gardens and commercial landscape designs.

If ornamental grasses are some of your favorite plants and you want to know what to plant alongside them then continue reading and take a closer look at companion planting with ornamental grasses.

Ornamental Grass Companion Plants

Before installing ornamental grasses know exactly what you’re going for, generally speaking, most ornamental grasses range in height from 1-6 ft with 1-3 ft spread in diameter. The Pampas grass, however, can get up to 10 ft tall, some grasses have been reported to get as high as “15 ft” the taller ornamental grasses can be used as a backdrop in a garden bed.

The taller variety can also be used to fill in large gaps or spaces, smaller garden plants can be placed towards the front, I have seen red fountain grasses misplaced and at maturity, these grasses overtook the entire planting area. So ensure when installing smaller plants with the taller ornamental grasses to provide smaller plants adequate room so they don’t get chocked out by these grasses.

The goal when installing ornamental grasses with other plants is not only to go for beauty but balance as well, liriope on the other hand is an ornamental grass-like plant that gets up to 10-18 inches with 12-18 inches spread in diameter. Because of their height, liriope is used as a border plant and is normally planted in clumps or groups.

This garden beauty can also be used as a ground cover, the leaves of liriope can be either a solid green or a variegated color, and the flowers which are produced by these plants are tiny, clusters with colors ranging from white, purple, and lavender. Liriope is extremely drought-tolerant, once established little care is needed these small plants are so tuff they are almost like set it and forget it.

Ornamental Grass Companion Planting-a-liriope
A liriope

Besides being used as a border plant liriope can be installed around the trunks of trees provided they are getting sufficient sunlight. Liriope can be installed around the base of container-grown plants as well.  Liriope can be planted along the border of a garden path walkway or driveway with larger plants being used as a backdrop.

The muhly grass is another ornamental grass that will go to work for you, during the colder months the stalks of the muhly grass produce beautiful pink to purple flowers. Though these beautiful flowers are short-lived the presence of that short period can light up your garden.

During winter time I have watched these garden beauties transform from a green color to dazzling color. Most ornamental grasses bloom from late summer to fall, why not consider mixing it up a bit by installing both early and late blooming ornamental grasses that way once the bloom period ends for one it will be the beginning bloom period for the other.

Keep this concept in mind along with installing other perennial plants that bloom in the winter and you would have created a work of art by having a garden that’s colorful year-round.

The key to installing ornamental grasses with other garden plants is knowing the height and the spread of these plants at maturity give them that amount of spacing along with knowing their requirements(maintenance needs) in order to thrive and you will have much success as you create a garden where different plant species complements each other.

Early Blooming Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grass Companion Plants-red-fountain-grass
Red fountain grass
  • Feather reed grass
  • Side oats gramma
  • Korean feather reed grass
  • Upland river oats
  • Big Bluestem
  • Japanese forest grass
  • Blue gamma
  • Red fountain grass
  • Chinese fountain grass
  • Annual fountain grass

Late Blooming Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grass Companion Plants-pink-muhly-grass
Pink muhly grass
  • Pink muhly grass
  • Maiden grass
  • Fountain grass
  • Dwarf Pampas grass
  • Switch grass
  • Blue oat grass
  • Flame grass
  • New Zealand flax
  • Red switch grass
  • Red Hood sedge

The Benefits of Fountain Grass

  • They are low maintenance
  • Growing ornamental grasses on hills and slopes will help to prevent soil erosion
  • Ornamental grasses provide shelter and protection for small mammals and insects
  • Ornamental grasses can provide a privacy screen
  • Ornamental grasses are resistant to pests and diseases when properly placed in a garden
  • Butterflies and birds are attracted to these garden beauties, finches, native sparrows, and other small birds forage for seeds from these grasses
  • Pollinators are attracted to ornamental grasses as well

The final word on ornamental grass companion plants

Ornamental grasses are truly amazing, and from what we have discussed you can now see why these grasses are a gardener’s choice. I have proven them because I have worked with many species of ornamental grasses on garden projects. Ornamental grasses go well when using them as companion planting. If you desire to have a low-maintenance garden that goes to work for you then these grass types are the ones for you. Go for it, you will be so happy with the results as they grace your garden and landscapes with their beauty and charm.


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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.