Great Grasses for Cut Flowers and Foliage

Originally presented at the 2007 National Conference
in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Fantastic Flowers, Blooms and Seed Heads

Carex grayi    
Gray’s Sedge
Unusual, three-dimensional seed heads add spunk to arrangements. When dried, color may vary between brown and green.

Andropogon glomeratus    
Bushy Bluestem
Fluffy plumes, great fresh or dried (may need help with spray to keep plumes together while drying).

Briza media    
Quaking Grass
Rustling seed heads are useful in fresh or dried arrangements.

‘Gracillimus’, ‘Adagio’, ‘Sarabande’, ‘Purpurascens’
Miscanthus offers a variety of colors of seed heads, from pure white to dark red.  Blooms can be used fresh or dried; they really puff out when dried. Use some kind of “hairspray” on these dried plumes.

Calamagrostis brachytricha    
Korean Feather Reed Grass
Light, feathery pink plumes for airy, fall arrangements.

Calamagrostis x acutiflora
‘Karl Foerster’ is good for dried spring arrangements.

Switchgrass  ‘Cloud Nine’, ‘Northwind’, ‘Shenandoah’, ‘Dewey Blue’, ‘Dallas Blues’
All Panicums have something to offer for the cut flower market: a large palette of light, airy seed heads.  Use fresh or dried.

Muhlenbergia capillaris    
Pink Muhly Grass
This great look in the landscape can be transferred to fresh arrangements.  Keeps its color for a fairly long time when dried.

Muhlenbergia capillaris     
‘White Cloud’
Wonderful white seed heads.  Use fresh or dried.  Blooms in October.

Pink Flamingos Muhly    ‘Pink Flamingos’
Its stems reach 4-5 feet long with a foot of pink blooms.  Should work well in large arrangements.

Pennisetum alopecuroides    
‘Hameln’, ‘Foxtrot’, ‘Moudry’
Fountain grasses with bottlebrush plumes are very attractive in fresh arrangements.  Take precautions if drying—bristles may fall apart.

Pennisetum villosum, P. setaceum ‘Rubrum’, P. glaucum ‘Purple Majesty’
These are stunning pennisetums for fresh arrangements.  The colors of the plumes are very striking.

Dichromena latifolia        
White Top Sedge
This sedge produces pretty white, star-shaped  blooms for fresh arrangements.

Fantastic Foliage

Acorus calamus ‘Variegatus’
Striped Sweet Flag
Bold, green and white variegated foliage.  Has a citrus scent when crushed.

Andropogon virginicus        
Grasses from pastures and roadsides are perfect for fall and winter arrangements.  This one offers upright stems and great color.

Carex muskingunsimes        
Palm Sedge
Beautiful light green pinwheel-like foliage.  Great filler for fresh arrangements.

Carex buchananii        
Leatherleaf Sedge
Interesting bronze-cinnamon-colored foliage contrasts well with deep greens and orange.

Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’    
Sparkler foliage radiates like a July 4th sparkler.  Beautiful white with green foliage
works well in fresh arrangements.

Cymbopogon citratus        
Lemon Grass
Light green foliage works well fresh or dried.  The quick-growing annual grass can be used in kitchen arrangements.  It is used in Thai cooking.

Equisetum hyemale        
This ancient rush can be used in fresh or dried arrangements for an uncommon look.  

‘Carmen’s Gray’, ‘Afro’, ‘Frenzy’, ‘Curly Wurly’
Rushes are perfect for fresh and dried arrangements.  ‘Carmen’s Gray’ has wonderful, stiff blue foliage while curly rushes add fun to make people smile.  Very touchable.  Variegation may be lost when dried.

Pennisetum purpureum ‘Prince’ & ‘Princess’
Wide-leaved purple foliage good for fresh arrangements.  

Nassella tenuissima        
Mexican Feather Grass
Fine-textured lime-green foliage.  A great airy filler for fresh or dried arrangements.

Great Grasses for
Foliage and Flowers

Arundo donax            
Giant Reed
Probably best used in fresh arrangements.  Plumes are huge, so plan accordingly when designing with this flower.

Arundo donax        
‘Golden Chain’, ‘Variegata’
Bold variegation, golden or white with green.  Perfect for BIG and bold arrangements.

‘Gracillimus’, ‘Cabaret’, ‘Zebrinus’,
The foliage of these Miscanthus cultivars offers a variety of textures and variegation for fresh arrangements.  The thin green blades of ‘Gracillimus’ and the horizontal stripes of ‘Zebrinus’ can also work in dried arrangements.

Eragrostis sp.        
Blue Love Grass
Light airy plumes with blue stems—good for large arrangements.  

Helictotrichon sempervirens        
Blue Oat Grass
Good blue foliage for smaller arrangements.  Use fresh, may also work dried.

Leymus arenarius     
‘Blue Dune’, Blue Lyme Grass
Cool blue grey foliage and blue-tinted seed heads.  Use fresh and dried. Good medium-sized plant.

John and Jill Hoffman own Hoffman Nursery, Rougemont, North Carolina