Ornamental Grass Companion Plants

Ornamental grasses fit comfortably in just about any garden. They not only add vertical interest and interesting flowerheads but they can also be grown in just about any location. Many grasses will tolerate semi-shade or full sun and grow well either in a dry or semi-moist location. The range of ornamental grasses is extensive and ensures that one will fit into any garden situation. Evergreen grasses are best for containers, adding structure to a front walkway or porch. The number of outstanding combinations you can make with ornamental grasses is practically endless.  

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Shrubs To Plant With Ornamental Grasses

Planting ornamental grasses with shrubs is a great way to highlight evergreens, both broadleaf and conifer types. The taller types of grasses grow well as specimen plants when planted near more traditional and formal hedging such as boxwood, holly, and junipers. Low-growing ornamental grasses used as a ground cover or edging are perfect for setting off deciduous shrubs such as butterfly bush, aronia, and blueberries. The spectacular fall color and seedheads of most ornamental grasses also coordinate with the colorful fall foliage of Aronia, Japanese maple, and Oakleaf Hydrangea. 

Planting ornamental grasses alongside shrubs does require larger spacing than planting alongside other perennials or annuals. Use the mature width of each plant to determine the spacing. A grass expected to be 4 feet wide will need to be spaced 4 feet from the center of the next plant.   

Perennials To Plant With Ornamental Grasses

The list of perennials that pair well with ornamental grasses is long. The main consideration is what the final effect each plant will have on the mood of the garden. Ornamental grasses are used extensively in modern garden designs, but grasses can also lend an airy feel to a cottage garden or add soft texture to an Asian-inspired garden. Always keep in mind the light requirements for each plant. Coneflower, Helenium, Salvia, fall-blooming sedum, and sea holly prefer full sun and make great companions for xeriscaping with grasses. 

Provide ornamental grasses with plenty of room for their fibrous and mat-like roots. Most perennials can be planted 18 inches apart, which will work for a few years. But eventually, this close spacing will lead to overcrowding, and grasses and their companions will need to be divided and transplanted.  

Annuals To Plant With Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses can also be used as the anchor of an ever-changing planting of annuals. Trailing annuals planted as groundcovers work well to suppress weeds during the growing seasons and can be changed out the next spring. Sweet potato vine, Supertunia petunias, and Alyssum make the most durable and dependable groundcover planting. Taller annuals such as cosmos, snapdragons, and Heliotrope can be used to add color or scent to the vertical shape of the ornamental grasses.

Best Companion Plants For Ornamental Grasses in Containers

Ornamental grasses can have two different roles when planted in a mixed seasonal container. The larger varieties will deliver as a Thriller element when surrounded by Alyssum and petunias. Smaller types can be added to fill in around an already-established thriller such as Clematis or Boxwood. Watering of planters with grasses in them may require constant monitoring. Grasse will dry out faster than other plants often because of their large root balls. Fertilize the containers sparingly so as not to overfeed the ornamental grasses. 

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Plants Not to Grow With Ornamental Grasses

Shade-loving plants, such as ferns, bleeding hearts, and Fuschia, do not make good companions for ornamental grasses. Most grasses require at least 4-6 hours of sun to grow well, although Acorus, Japanese Forest Grass, and some sedges are exceptions. Ornamental grasses that abundantly self-seed should not be planted near woody herbs such as lavender, thyme, and sage. The seedlings can germinate near or under the plants, causing the grass to grow perpetually through the plants. 

Best Plants To Grow With Ornamental Grasses

 ButterflyBush

ButterflyBush

Japanese Maples

Japanese Maples

Coneflower

Coneflower

Alyssum

Alyssum

Choose perennials and shrubs that have the same growing requirements as the ornamental grass. Many grasses require full sun and lean soil to perform best and prevent flopping. Use ornamental grasses to highlight the fall foliage of other plants or to add height to a planter on the deck or patio. 

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