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Ornamental grasses are real eye-catchers in the garden, on the balcony or on the terrace. The grasses come in a wide variety of growth heights and colors. The flowers of some ornamental grasses are particularly exotic, and they often protrude far beyond the plants and can be seen from afar. However, one asks oneself with such an exoticism: Are these hardy grasses? The good news: there are many hardy grasses. We have put together a selection for you.

Hardy grasses


Many popular ornamental grasses belong to the plant genus Miscanthus from the sweet grass family (Poaceae). The genus includes a total of almost 20 species. The best-known species is the Chinese reed (Miscanthus sinensis), whose stems are one-colored or two-colored. Varieties with yellow and green horizontal stripes are often called zebra reeds because their culms resemble the stripes of a zebra. Giant Chinese reed, botanically Miscanthus x giganteus, sometimes called Elephant Grass, is a natural hybrid of Chinese reed and Miscanthus sacchariflorus. Elephant grass is not only used as an ornamental grass, but is also an important plant for energy production. It grows up to three meters high and tolerates temperatures down to -20 °C.

Chinese reed also elephant grass

Chinese reed (Miscanthus sinensis)

Miscanthus sinensis thrives best on one full sun Location, but some varieties also tolerate a light penumbra. The soil or the substrate in the bucket should be permeable and nutrient-rich. The growth height is between 100 and 180 centimetres, depending on the species. In the flowering period from late summer to October, spikes of flowers adorn the grasses. The species used as ornamental grasses are fully frost hardy to frost hardy. Although many varieties of Chinese reed are deciduous, pruning should only be done in spring, because the old stalks protect the grass from moisture and rot.

Popular varieties are:

Chinese reed

  • "Little Spider": green culms with light gray edges
  • 'Morning Light': dark green culms with a white central stripe
  • "Nippon": green culms with copper-brown autumn colour
  • "Silver spider": green stalks, tolerates temperatures down to -25 °C
  • "Flamingo": green culms with reddish-brown autumn colour
  • "Goliath": green stalks, very tall (up to two meters)
  • "Dronning Ingrid": reddish colored culms

zebra reed

  • "Adagio": green and white stripes, maximum height: 100 centimeters
  • "Golden Bar"
  • 'Gold Breeze': tolerates temperatures down to -20 °C
  • "Zebrinus"
  • "Strictus": tolerates temperatures down to -20 °C
Chinese reed - zebra grass - Miscanthus sinensis "Golden Bar"

Fescue (Festuca)

The representatives of the genus "Festuca", which also belong to the sweet grass family (Poaceae), are also very popular ornamental grasses alongside Miscanthus. Festuca has over 200 species and is distributed worldwide. The best-known species include blue fescue (botanically Festuca cinerea) or bearskin grass (bearskin fescue).

Fescue prefer a sunny location, but a partially shaded spot is also tolerated. Festuca loves permeable, dry, some varieties even barren soil. With all varieties of blue fescue, you should definitely look out for this one soil properties Pay attention, because only there can they develop their light to steel blue colors. However, if the soil does not meet the requirements, the grasses only develop green stalks. Since they hardly exceed a height of 40 centimeters, many varieties have one cushiony Growth. The flowering time varies from variety to variety. Overall, however, it lasts from May to August, with many varieties flowering in summer. fescues are hardy down to -20°C and therefore tolerate the German winter well outdoors.

Popular evergreen varieties are:

Blue fescue

  • "Azurit" (garden fescue "Azurit")
  • "Intense Blue"
  • "Kingfisher"
  • "Elijah Blue"
  • "Festina"
  • "Great egret": blue-grey striped culms
  • "Uchte": blue-grey striped culms
Festuca cinerea, blue fescue "Festina"

other fescue species

  • Bearskin Fescue (Bearskin Grass): dark green culms, hardy to -20 °C
  • Bearskin Fescue "Pic Carlit"
  • Yellow fescue "GoldenToupee": golden yellow stalks
  • Sheep fescue 'April Green' (Amethyst fescue, Rainbow fescue): blue-green culms
  • Atlas fescue: grey-green culms, height between 60 and 120 centimetres
Bearskin fescue, Festuca gautieri

Sedges (Carex)

The plant genus Carex belongs to the sourgrass family (Cyperaceae). It includes around 2,000 species. The species used as ornamental grasses in our latitudes prefer a sunny to partially shaded location. However, some sedges do well in a shady spot. In contrast to Miscanthus and Faustuca, sedges can also cope with (slightly) moist soil if it is permeable. It is important that the soil or substrate is humus and rich in nutrients. As a rule, Carex does not exceed a growth height of 40 centimeters. Depending on the species, sedges flower in May or June or from late summer to autumn. The evergreen culms are unicolored, sometimes in a bright green, or striped. The more exotic-looking varieties include sedges with bronze-colored blades. Sedges are hardy and some varieties also tolerate temperatures down to -20 °C. For example, the following are suitable for keeping in the garden or in a bucket on the balcony:

  • Gold sedge "Evergold": green culms with sun-yellow central stripes, particularly good for partially shaded and shady locations, hardy to -20 °C
  • Japanese sedge "Ice Dance": white culms with a green central stripe, hardy to -20 °C
  • Variegated white Japanese sedge "Variegata": Culms with white and green vertical stripes, prefers shady locations
  • Sedge 'Everlime' and sedge 'Eversheen': bright yellow-green culms
  • Sedge "Snowline": white-edged culms
  • New Zealand sedge "Bronze Form": bronze-colored culms with a metallic effect, hardy to -15 °C
  • Sedge "Bronco" / "Bronze": reddish-brown culms in the lower part, bronze-colored in the upper part
  • Angular sedge: light green to green culms, native grass
  • Mountain sedge: light green culms with golden-brown autumn colour
  • Forest sedge: light green blades, native grass, height of growth up to 70 centimetres
  • Crested sedge 'Irish Green': green culms
Carex morrowii, Japanese sedge

Pennisetum alopecuroides (Pennisetum alopecuroides)

Pennisetum, also known as feather bristle or Australian pennisetum, is a species of the grass family (Poaceae). The long inflorescences are reminiscent of lamp cleaners, hence the name.

Pennisetum alopecuroides likes sunny to partially shaded locations. The soil should be permeable. The flowering period is from July or August. The culms then turn yellow in autumn. The growth height is between 60 and 130 centimeters. Lamp cleaner grass tolerates the German winter very well, as it can withstand temperatures down to -20 °C.

Popular varieties are:

  • Pennisetum grass "Hameln": green to light brown culms, hardy to -20 °C
  • Australian Pennisetum: grey-green culms with golden-yellow autumn colours
  • Feather bristle grass "Japonicum": green stalks, no autumn colour
  • Lamp cleaner grass - feather bristle grass "Piglet" (dwarf lamp cleaner grass): green stalks with yellow autumn colours, growth height between 40 and 50 centimetres, hardy to -20 °C.
Pennisetum alopecuroides, Pennisetum alopecuroides

Pampas grass (Cortaderia)

Pampas grasses (Cortaderia) are a genus of the sweet grass family (Poaceae). The different types of Cortaderia grow between 1.5 and 3 meters high. There are about 20 species, the best known being Cortaderia selloane, the American pampas grass. The grasses love the sun and well-drained soil. The flowering period is from September to October.

Hardy varieties are:

  • "Evita": robust, hardy to minus 15 degrees
  • "Citaro": green stalks, frost-resistant, flowers until November
  • 'White Feather': silvery white flowers
  • Small pampas grass "Pumila": silvery-white flowers, stature height 50 to 120 centimeters
  • Pink Pampas Grass 'Pink Feather': light pink flowers
  • "Aureolineata": grey-green culms with light yellow stripes
Pampas Grass, Cortaderia 'White Feather'

Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Reed canary grass, also known as Havelmielitz or Havelmilitz, belongs to the sweet grass family (Poaceae). The grass prefers the sun, but also tolerates partial shade. In the wild, clay or mud soils are the ideal location for the grasses. The “Picta” variety is best known as an ornamental grass and needs permeable, nutrient-rich soil. However, it can also cope with marshy soil, so the grasses are also suitable for greening pond banks (0 to 10 centimetres). In addition to "Picta", there is the "Feesey" variety in specialist shops, which also has white-green striped stalks. The growth height of the grasses is between 50 and 80 centimeters.

reed canary grass; Phalaris arundinace

tip: The frost hardiness of all grasses refers to outdoor cultivation. If the grasses are kept in buckets on the balcony, then you should cover the planter in winter for protection. You should also protect young plants from severe frost.

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