Ornamental Grasses

Notes:

  • -- indicates plants commonly available in nurseries and/or garden centers in south Florida
  • © indicates Florida native plants
  • water drop indicates plants that can tolerate wet soils or occasional flooding. 

    Click on linked scientific names for photos and/or more information.

Common name
Scientific name

Size

Light

Salt tolerance

Comments

water drop

Big bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

5-10’

Full sun

Moderate

Perennial, upright, bunch grass forming large clumps. Stems with blue at base. Leaves blue-green in early summer, maturing to copper or orange-brown in fall. Bronze to purplish seed heads, to 3”, in late summer. Tolerates flooding in summer.

Indian wood-oats

Chasmanthium latifolium

2-5’

Full sun to partial shade

None

Attractive, clump-forming grass with wide leaves and nodding, arching clusters of flat, oat-like seedheads. Resembles small sea-oats. Dried flowerheads highly prized. Also grown as groundcover in shaded areas.

water dropPampas grass --

Cortaderia selloana

UF Fact Sheet (121KB pdf)

6-12’

Full sun

Low

Impressive, graceful, fountain-like clumps. Large, 12-18” tall plumes erupt from foliage in mid-summer. Will tolerate poorly drained soil and brief flooding. Dried flowerheads highly prized. Caution: Purple pampas grass, C. jubata, is invasive.

Lemongrass --water drop

Cymbopogon citratus

UF Fact Sheet (46KB pdf)

4-6’

Full sun to light shade

Low

Elegant, fragrant, clumping grass with thin, strap-like, yellow-green leaves that release citrus aroma when crushed. Prefers moist soil; moderate drought tolerance.

Lilyturf --

Liriope muscari

UF Fact Sheet (157KB pdf)

1-2’

Partial to full shade

Moderate

Grass-like foliage and trumpet shaped flowers borne on erect stems in blue, purple, pink, or white, depending on species or cultivar. Cold tolerant. Needs freely draining soil. Mulch to control weeds.

Creeping lilyturf --

Liriope spicata

UF Fact Sheet (157KB pdf)

More information...

6-18”

Partial shade

Moderate

Similar to lilyturf, but creeping rather than upright habit.

water drop

Pink muhly grass, hairgrass --

Muhlenbergia capillaris

UF Fact Sheet (102KB pdf)

2-3’

Full sun to partial shade

High

Compact, tuft-forming grass with fine, feather-like, pink flowerheads held high above the leaves.

water drop

Blue muhly grass

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

1-2’

Full sun

High

Similar to pink muhly grass, but with bluish-gray foliage and purplish to gray flowerheads. Prefers dry, but will tolerate wet soil. Excellent groundcover for poor, sandy soils.

Mondo grass --

Ophiopogon japonicus

UF Fact Sheet

6-24”

Partial to full shade

High

Dark green to blackish, glossy leaves. Small, lavender flowers followed by iridescent, blue-black berries. Good border plant.

Beach panic grass

Panicum amarum
(Link is to related species)

1-2’

Full sun

High

Clumping grass with flower stalks rising above foliage. Grows well in sand. Good for beach-front.

Oriental fountain grass --

Pennisetum orientale

1-2’

Full sun to partial shade

High

Low-growing, compact fountain grass with pink or white, fluffy inflorescence in summer and fall. Prefers well-drained soil. Caution: The related P. purpureum is a FLEPPC Category I invasive plant.

Palm grass -- water drop

Setaria palmifolia

8-10’

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Evergreen, tropical grass with wide, accordian-pleated leaves that resemble palm seedlings. Greenish, cylindrical flower spike arches above leaves.

Sand cordgrass --

Spartina bakeri

4-6’

Full sun

High

Large, bunch-forming grass with thin, brownish-green, rolled, wire-like, sand-papery leaves. Highly adaptable and underutilized. Good for beach-front.

water drop

Fakahatchee grass -- ©

Tripsacum dactyloides

4-5’

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Large, native grass. Rich green foliage erupts from fountain-like clumps. Distinctive flowers rise above leaves on slender stems in midsummer. Easy to grow. Virtually free of pests. Prefers moist soil, but has good drought tolerance.

water drop

Dwarf fakahatchee grass -- ©

Tripsacum floridana

UF Fact Sheet (82KB pdf)

2-4’

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Native grass similar to T. dactyloides, but smaller.