Everyone wants Pampas Grass, or do they? The tall grasses seen around town with fluffy plumes in late summer are not the true Pampas Grass (Cotaderia selloana) but a selection of Miscanthus sinensis. M. Sinensis or Silver Grass is a group of hardy, clump forming (non-invasive) grasses which bear tall plumes from late summer through fall and into winter. There are dozens of selections but among the nicest are M. sin. “Zebrinus” (Zebra Grass) which sports horizontal bands of gold across the green leaves, M. sin. “Gracillimus” (Maiden Grass) which is finely textured foliage and the early blooming M. sin. “Grosse Fontaine” with its pinkish plumes. These will all grow six feet or more. M. sin. “Yuka Jima” is perfect for smaller landscapes growing to about 4 feet while M. sin. “Puenktchen” has the same stripes as Zebra grass but at half the size. Since true Pampas grass rarely survives Niagara winters, Miscanthus sinensis is the grass to grow.
One company sells a bag of 21- 4-6, another a 28-3-6, still another a 29-3-4, they all come in 7, 10, 15 and 20kg bags…What A Headache! These numbers represent the percentage by weight of the major nutrients required by grass. For example, a bag of 21- 4-6 is made up of 21% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus and 6% potassium. Research shows a lawn requires about 2 kg’s of Nitrogen (the most important) per 100 m2 annually and that it never be applied heavier than 0.5 to 0.7 kg per application. A 10kg bag of 21-4-6 contains 2.1 kg of nitrogen and covers 300 m2 that’s at the recommended 0.7 kg per 100 m2. Numbers, numbers, numbers, it could drive you mad. Truth is, most quality major brands are designed to deliver the right amount of nitrogen to your lawn. However, this may not be true for less reputable brands. At Rice Road Greenhouses we make it easy by offering a high quality, 4 step customizable program that’s just right and at a great value.
The showpiece in public gardens last year was Ornamental millet F1 “Purple Majesty.” It is a stunning plant with 3-5 foot tall seed heads that resemble purple corn. In summer the foliage turns a rich purple-burgundy. This plant is equally at home in borders or containers, but it is not winter hardy.
An exciting prospect for a hardy purple grass is Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’. It starts out green, just like fountain grass and millet, but by mid-summer the leaves begin to turn red, gradually becoming wholly wine-red. At four feet tall this grass is useful as focal point in the sunny border.
So this summer don’t worry about the grass being greener on the other side, purple grass is all the rage.