Ornamental grasses used to be rare in landscaped gardens. But because of their low maintenance needs, drought tolerance, and long periods of visual interest, gardeners began more and more to incorporate grasses into their gardens.
Ornamental grasses have leaves and inflorescences that offer a mesmerizing charm when fall and winter sunshine reflects off them as backlight.
Purple grasses complement whites and pastels and work well in a variety of color schemes. Combine them with acid greens, reds, and oranges to create a striking pot or border display. Mix them with pink, blue, and white-flowered plants for a more traditional look. No matter which colors you combine, the grasses will attract pollinators.
Here is a list of easy-to-grow attractive grasses that add interest to any garden.
1. Pennisetum setaceum ‘Purpureum’
This fountain grass is a lovely plant with crimson or purple leaf blades and delicate, fuzzy-like flowers.
Its foxtail plumes and lovely burgundy leaves are highlighted when surrounded by contrasting plants. This herbaceous perennial plant grows on poor soil and can survive high temperatures.
The tightly packed, mid-green, strappy leaves create a lovely, arching appearance. Young inflorescences and infructescence can be cut and used in flower arrangements. Older spikes tend to fall apart when dried.
2. Cortaderia jubata
Cortaderia jubata is also known as Andean pampas grass. It has the potential to grow extremely big, reaching a height of 30 feet.
This tall, tussock-forming grass has serrated, drooping leaves and a tall, fluffy inflorescence that is pink to purple in color when young but turns brown with age.
It is considered invasive in California and Hawaii, so gardeners may have to counteract its tendency to spread by cutting the flower heads before they produce seeds.
3. Ophiopogon planiscapus
Black mondo grass is well-known for its luxurious foliage. Its purple-green leaves turn black when placed in direct sunlight and well-drained soil..
From early to midsummer, short spikes of lilac to white flowers emerge, followed by purplish black berries in the fall. They are spectacular in any setting, adding color, depth, and movement.
With its dramatic leaves, this is an excellent companion plant that adds vibrancy to the landscape during the colder months.
4. Schizachyrium scoparium
The most captivating qualities of the Little Bluestem grass are its blue foliage and fall tones. The pale blue-green leaf begins to take on scarlet tones late in the summer, eventually turning a darker red-purple in the fall.
Purplish-bronze flowers appear in 3-inch spikelets on stalks that rise above the foliage. Flowers give way to delicate, silvery-white seed heads that can last all the way into early winter.
Because it thrives in hot, dry areas where other plants struggle, this is a great plant for rehabilitating an eroded site.
5. Pennisetum glaucum
Pearl millet is a small cultivar developed by the University of Nebraska. The ornamental variants are perfect for use as vertical accent plants in pots, raised beds, and borders.
This warm-season perennial grass grows 2 to 5 feet tall. It requires full sunshine to develop a deep color, so it should be planted in full sun.
Plant this grass in groups or masses rather than as a lone plant for a more effective appearance. Dark purple species contrast dramatically with yellow to light green flowers and leaves.
6. Muhlenbergia capillaris
Pink muhly grass has needle-like blue-green leaves that give it a strong vertical growth pattern. Muhlenbergia plants are as tough and versatile as any other perennial ornamental grass.
Delicate flowers appear above the leaves in the fall and may completely cover the foliage. In the fall, it has a pink to purple flower display. It thrives in meadows and as a garden plant in general.
7. Pennisetum purpureum ‘Prince’
Elephant grass is a lovely ornamental with purple foliage that intensifies rather than fades in the summer heat. At 5 to 6 feet tall, the semi-dwarf ‘Prince’ variety is an excellent border or container plant.
Its exceptional texture, color, and contrast work well in foundations and garden edges. As a perennial, it can be used as a specimen plant or ground cover.