8 Ornamental Grasses to Consider Growing in the Shade

Ornamental grasses are great to provider structure and balance to your property. Which ones can grow in the shade?

Ornamental grasses include both true grasses and plants that resemble grass in their structure. Both are grown for their texture and charm throughout different seasons.

Grasses perform a multitude of functions in the garden. Above all, they are a fantastic solution to add foliage and flair to your garden. 

It’s difficult to find varieties that thrive in the shade, which is why they’re not as common as full-sun grasses. Many horticulturists, however, have been working hard to overcome this issue.

Today’s garden centers have a wide range of species that flourish in shaded areas. Low-growing, tall, and shapely varieties are now widely available, and it’s easier than ever to find one that’s right for your garden.

Choose shade-loving grasses in a variety of heights, thicknesses, and colors, and even the most neglected areas of your yard will quickly become something to be proud of.

1. Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

Hardy in Zones 4 to 9, this beautiful grass looks great as a border plant, ground cover, or container plant, especially in Zen or Asian-style settings.

The golden leaves feature narrow green stripes and turn a hint of pink when the temperature drops. This plant can be used to brighten up rock gardens and wooded areas.

Hakonechloa grows best in wet areas with rich, loamy soil. Because direct sunlight tends to scorch the foliage, partial to full shade is ideal.

Healthy bush of a macra munro grass

2. Luzula Sylvatica

This simple and adaptable grass-like plant can be used as a ground cover in any area, including dry shade. It mixes well with other plants like Hostas and ferns.

Luzula sylvatica forms a low mound of leathery, dark-green leaves that spread out to make a thick, weed-proof area. Little clusters of green blossoms appear in the spring. In mild winter climates, it remains evergreen.

luzula sylvatica grass with its tips drying due to the heat of the sun

3. Chasmanthium Latifolium

Chasmanthium latifolium is a tall ground cover that grows well in a variety of conditions, including full sun and shade and moist or dry locations.

This lovely native variety is great for the dry areas of your yard. Because of its adaptability, it can be planted in both abandoned areas and well-maintained gardens.

It is a clump-forming perennial that grows 2 to 4 feet tall and produces blue-green, bamboo-like leaves that turn a brilliant yellow-gold color as they mature.

4. Variegated bulbous oat grass

This cool-season perennial plant is native to Europe. It works well as a showpiece, foundation, or border plant. It can also be used as a focal point in any garden theme.

Its foliage turns into a lovely loose clump. The blue-green leaves are 12 to 16 inches long, with eye-catching white striped foliage. It has a consistent color and texture that looks fantastic all year, so it is particularly suited to add fall and winter interest to your garden. 

variegated tuber oat grass under the sun

5. Ophiopogon Japonicus

Ophiopogon japonicus grows best in partial to full shade. Because of its low-maintenance needs and turf-like appearance, this tiny herb makes an excellent ground cover where typical grass cannot grow without full sunlight.

In shadow gardens, it can be used as an effective alternative to the usual grasses.

The flowers that form on an inflorescence are small and bell-shaped, with colors ranging from light lilac to white.

Beautiful little grass and white pebbles in a landscaped garden

6. Calamagrostis X Acutiflora

Calamagrostis x acutiflora, often known as Overdam, is a lovely medium-sized variegated grass with lovely pink-tinged flowers that fade to golden blonde at the end of the growth season. In warmer climates, it is evergreen.

It thrives in mild shade, particularly in the afternoon. While it requires shade to be protected from the hot summer sun, flowers and foliage can suffer from over-shading.

Overdam is particularly suitable for bog gardens.

calamagrotis grass with a tree of red leaves

7. Carex Spp.

Sedges are grass-like plants from the Carex genus. It is a shade-loving type, usually evergreen, with a texture that easily blends in with others.

Many species are well-suited to common landscaping uses, such as pathway borders. Most Carex thrive in moist conditions and are somewhat tolerant of neglect.

Depending on how they are planted, these perennials can be made to look like sparkling stars or act as muted companion plants in both sunny and shaded settings. 

The variegated broadleaf sedge can easily brighten any shaded area of your garden.

Carex genus grass with thin leaves

8. Deschampsia Cespitosa

Deschampsia cespitosa grows best in humus-rich, partially shaded areas. It can tolerate in full sun if there receives enough moisture. 

In a semi-shaded, well-drained location, this flowering plant will bloom for the duration of the summer. Place it in front of a shadow border to fully appreciate its beauty.

This grass gradually turns from green to golden throughout the season, maintaining a vibrant color and excellent shape for winter appeal. 

Deschampsia cespitosa is a beautiful plant that pairs well with ferns.

Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
More ArticlesGrass