You have probably thought of replacing a patch of grass with some flowers. But how about replacing the flowers with perennial grass? Ornamental grasses are beautiful, nearly pest-free, and easy to grow in a container garden. They widely vary in colors and textures, and are easily dried to make attractive indoor decorations. They are often taller than surrounding plants, and some have lush fall colors (as long as they get a few hours of direct sunlight every day). Photo credit: www.ddgnevada.com.
Japanese Blood Grass
Japanese Blood Grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra') has a great name and even better lasting color. It grows about one foot tall with blades that are green, yellow, and bright red. It is drought-resistant and tolerant of most soils. It also is perfect for containers because it can be invasive if planted in the ground. Photo credit: greenwalks.wordpress.com.
Sea Urchin Blue Fescue
The Sea Urchin Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca) is a newer variation on the standard blue fescue, a popular favorite ornamental grass. It is perfectly designed for containers with its compact, bright blue ball of blades. It grows about one foot tall, likes full sun and needs regular water. Available at/photo credit: www.highcountrygardens.com.
Maiden Hair Grass
Maiden Hair Grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus') is just one member of the diverse Miscanthus family of tall ornamental grasses. They grow easily in a beautiful variety of colors, but should not be planted in the Mid-Atlantic U.S., where they are invasive. The Gracillimus has wispy reddish-brown heads late in the growing season as other plants are going dormant. Other attractive Miscanthus breeds include the Strictus, with stiff porcupine blades and yellow bands; and Zebrinus, which is striped with white leaf bands. Available at/photo credit: www.highcountrygardens.com.
Silky Thread Grass
Silky Thread Grass (Nassella tenuissima) grows about 18 inches tall and moves with the breeze, changing colors in the shifting sunlight. It is drought-tolerant and thrives in well-drained soil. Photo credit: Mondomuse on flickr.com.
Dwarf Pampas Grass
Dwarf Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana 'Pumila') is the peacock of grasses, showing off a big fluffy white flower head that seems a world away from a green lawn. The dwarf variety is more frost-resistant while being more appropriately sized for a container. Photo credit: www.ddgnevada.com.
Sunset Glow Dwarf Bamboo
Bamboo is a stiff, hardy grass. It grows fast and is widely coveted as a green building material. It also adds a pleasant and unique accent to a container garden. The Sunset Glow Dwarf Bamboo (Fargesia 'Rufa') won't become an Asian forest, but the distinctive orange stalk grows to about 8 inches tall. It's fairly expensive but also fairly foolproof. It will last for years in most any temperature, sunlight or drought condition. Available at/photo credit: www.burntridgenursery.com.
Ornamental Grasses Sampler
Finally, if you want to start a few ornamental grasses in containers, check out High Country Gardens' ornamental grasses sampler. It includes one plant in each of seven diverse varieties that grow in different colors and to different heights. They are mostly different species than those listed above. Available at/photo credit: www.highcountrygardens.com.