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. Northern Sea Oats, River Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium

    Northern Sea Oats is a one-of-a-kind native grass with upright, bamboo-like foliage and flattened seed heads that dangle from arched stems. Seed heads attract songbirds, provide wint...

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    Northern Sea Oats Northern Sea Oats, River Oats Chasmanthium latifolium
    As low as $15.99 Sale $14.39
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Northern Sea Oats is a one-of-a-kind native grass with upright, bamboo-like foliage and flattened seed heads that dangle from arched stems. Seed heads attract songbirds, provide winter interest, and add texture to dried flower arrangements. Bright green foliage provides butterfly habitat, and turns to copper and brown as the seasons change. Northern Sea Oats are highly adaptable, easy to grow, and will naturalize and spread over time. (Chasmanthium latifolium)
  2. Prairie Dropseed Grass, Sporobolus heterolepis

    Prairie Dropseed Grass adds movement and texture to the landscape with gentle mounds of arching thread-like foliage. Open seed heads float above the foliage in fragrant puffs in summ...

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    Prairie Dropseed Grass Prairie Dropseed Grass Sporobolus heterolepis
    As low as $15.99 Sale $14.39
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Prairie Dropseed Grass adds movement and texture to the landscape with gentle mounds of arching thread-like foliage. Open seed heads float above the foliage in fragrant puffs in summer, lasting through the fall when songbirds nibble the seeds. Foliage is glossy green in summer and golden orange in autumn. This deer-resistant native grass is a favored choice for garden design, mass planting, and stabilizing slopes. (Sporobolus heterolepis)
  3. Purple love grass, Eragrostis spectabilis

    Purple Love Grass dazzles with an abundance of texture, from fine blue-green foliage to airy clouds of rose-purple flower panicles. Plants bloom mid to late summer followed by airy s...

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    Purple Love Grass Purple Love Grass Eragrostis spectabilis
    As low as $15.99 Sale $14.39
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    Purple Love Grass dazzles with an abundance of texture, from fine blue-green foliage to airy clouds of rose-purple flower panicles. Plants bloom mid to late summer followed by airy seed heads and coppery autumn foliage. This compact, drought-tolerant native grass is highly adaptable and naturalizes readily, perfect for low-maintenance landscaping. Plant en masse for a stunning display. (Eragrostis spectabilis)
  4. Feather Reed Grass Karl Foerster, Calamagrostis acutiflora

    ‚Karl Foerster‚ Feather Reed Grass creates a dramatic garden accent, with tall, slender, vertical growth and feathery plumes of shifting bronze color that stay in place y...

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    Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass Calamagrostis x acutiflora Karl Foerster
    As low as $12.65 Sale $9.49
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass creates a dramatic garden accent, with tall, slender, vertical growth and feathery plumes of shifting bronze color that stay in place year-round. An early bloomer, 'Karl Foerster' is a cool season grass that grows most rapidly in the spring season and produces notably early blooms. It is a clump-forming decorative grass, with an upward architectural growth habit, making it a dramatic specimen plant in garden or meadow. Torch-like plumes are widely used in dried flower arrangements. This sterile variety does not self-sow, is deer resistant, and notably cold hardy. (Calamagrostis acutiflora)
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