by Amanda

ornamental grasses in winter - pampas
Ornamental Grasses, like this Pamaps Grass, look especially inviting in winter with a bit of frost or snow.

Ornamental Grasses are some of the most important — and often underappreciated — features of any landscape, whether it be a native meadow or a formal perennial garden. These grasses provide height, structure, and year-long interest in the landscape and are an absolute ease to grow. What’s more,  for many of us with long, snowy winters — they’re often the only glimpse of our once-green garden we get during the colder months.

Ornamental Grasses in Winter: Best Varieties

There are some varieties that look more dazzling than others with a bit of frost or snow on their tips. Some of our favorite varieties for winter interest are:

  1. Pampas Grass. This monumental grass can reach heights of up to 10’ and creates easy, year-long privacy with tall stems and showy plumes. The fluffy plumes look fantastic with a dusting of frost or snow and these grasses keep their fullness and structure throughout the entirety of the winter months.

  2. Miscanthus Grass. Miscanthus is a versatile grass that turns from a silvery green in the warmer months to a rich, dramatic burgundy come winter. This favorite of birds offers up shelter and habitat during the winter months and looks effortlessly elegant in snow and ice.

  3. Feather Reed Grass. Feather Reed Grass (of which Karl Foerster is the most widely known) grows to be up to 6’ tall and is a strong vertical grower, making it another great option for privacy planting. The feathery bronze plumes keep their color throughout the colder months and add interest to the landscape by swaying in the winter breeze.

How to Choose the Best Ornamental Grasses for Your Landscape

Grasses that are left up to add structure and interest in the winter months should be cut back to the ground in the very early spring, once the ground starts to warm and the snow melts.


ornamental grasses in winter - miscanthus grass
Miscanthus is a favorite of birds and provides winter shelter and plumes to perch on.

Ornamental Grasses In Winter: A Gallery

If we haven’t convinced you yet, here are some of our favorite examples of how elegant Ornamental Grasses can look in the winter garden. Enjoy!

ornamental grasses in winter - pampas grass
Even if you're in an area that doesn't get a lot of snowfall, ornamental grasses still bring visual interest throughout the colder months.
ornamental grasses in winter - planting for privacy
Grasses planted for privacy, like this Switchgrass, keep their fullness and shape throughout the winter.
ornamental grasses in winter - miscanthus grass
Miscanthus has whispy plumes, perfect for catching a dusting of snow.
ornamental grasses in winter - miscanthus grass
Combining Ornamental Grasses with the evergreens in your landscape, creates a winter wonderland.
ornamental grasses in winter - swath of pampas grass
If you have the space, a big swath of grasses like this Ravenna (also called Pamapas) creates privacy and adds drama in the winter months.
ornamental grasses in winter - grasses and sculpture
To add even more interest and whimsy to your winter garden, place sculptures around the landcape that can withstand the elements.
ornamental grasses in winter - small plant
Whether it's a mature plant or just getting started, ornamental grasses always add a sense of structure to the winter garden.

Do you plant Ornamental Grasses in your landscape for winter interest? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

  1. Hameln Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides

    'Hameln' Fountain Grass is a smaller variety with three distinctive seasons of stunning displays in full sun or part shade gardens. First, fine-textured green grass blades up to 3 fe...

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    Hameln Fountain Grass Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass Pennisetum alopecuroides Hameln
    As low as $12.65 Sale $11.39
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    'Hameln' Fountain Grass is a smaller variety with three distinctive seasons of stunning displays in full sun or part shade gardens. First, fine-textured green grass blades up to 3 feet tall are tipped with soft, wheat-shaped seed heads. Foliage turns rust gold in autumn, and finally, pale blonde in winter. 'Hameln' is a favorite for birds and resists hungry deer. A great match for late-season perennials and colorful shrubs in the mixed border, as well as cut or dried flower arrangements. (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
  2. Elijah Blue Fescue Grass, Festuca glauca

    'Elijah Blue' Fescue Grass is one of the most popular, no fuss ornamental grasses. Low growing in tight mounds with fine silvery blue-green foliage, plant 'Elijah Blue' in borders, r...

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    Elijah Blue Fescue Grass Elijah Blue Fescue Festuca glauca Elijah Blue
    As low as $11.99 Sale $10.79
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    'Elijah Blue' Fescue Grass is one of the most popular, no fuss ornamental grasses. Low growing in tight mounds with fine silvery blue-green foliage, plant 'Elijah Blue' in borders, rock gardens, or as groundcover to create year-round visual interest in the garden. In late spring and early summer, blonde seed heads appear on tall stems. Compact forms are great for small gardens and containers, and wont overtake its companions in the garden. (Festuca glauca)
  3. Curb Appeal Ornamental Grass Collection

    Our Curb Appeal Ornamental Grass Collection is an easy way to refresh the appearance of your home or garden. Low-maintenance grasses provide year-round visual interest and dynamic te...

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    Curb Appeal Ornamental Grass Collection Curb Appeal Ornamental Grass Collection
    $123.99 Sale $105.39
    Per Collection of 9
    Our Curb Appeal Ornamental Grass Collection is an easy way to refresh the appearance of your home or garden. Low-maintenance grasses provide year-round visual interest and dynamic texture suitable for any home style, from modern to traditional. This grass collection looks polished and sophisticated on its own or when planted to complement and fill in flower gardens. Collection of 9 plants.
  4. Foxtrot Fountain Grass, Pennisetum alopecuroide, Photo Courtesy of Hoffman Nursery

    'Foxtrot' Fountain Grass lives up to its namesake, dancing upon the gentlest of breezes to invigorate the garden. Everything about this plant moves, from the flowing foliage to the a...

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    Foxtrot Fountain Grass Foxtrot Fountain Grass Pennisetum alopecuroides
    As low as $15.99 Sale $14.39
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    'Foxtrot' Fountain Grass lives up to its namesake, dancing upon the gentlest of breezes to invigorate the garden. Everything about this plant moves, from the flowing foliage to the arching pink plumes. An early bloomer among grasses, 'Foxtrot' sends four-inch plumes skyward mid-summer through fall. The soft bottlebrush blooms are tinged pink to maroon and glisten in the sun. A long-time industry favorite for exceptional dependability, this is among the largest and strongest of fountain grasses. Fast growing, low maintenance, and will not reseed. (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
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