Splendid Garden Combinations

Ornamental grasses make splendid planting partners. Whether you are using them as a focal point, to accent other perennials, or in a mixed border, grasses make your garden combinations sing. Trying to decide the best companion plant for your grasses? Consider these three principles first – balance, bloom, and basic needs.

First, to balance out your garden, vary visual texture and height of the plantings. These variations add interest, and used judiciously, can unify your design. The linear foliage and fine texture of grasses contrast beautifully with broad-leaved foliage The upright habits and varying heights of grasses allow you to create patterns and focal points. If you have gaps, fill in with quick-growing plants to bridge those spots until perennials mature. Our garden coordinator used herbs this year as fillers in some of our first-year plantings.

Next, consider the season and longevity of the plant’s blooms. Most warm season grasses bloom in late summer to fall. They can shine when early-season perennials are done or complement the blooms of later-flowering species. Selections of Panicum virgatum and Pennisetum alopecuroides are smart choices. Their lovely foliage and plumes provide months of garden beauty and enjoyment.

Lastly, make sure you’re combining plants that have the same basic needs. Group plants together based on sun exposure, moisture, soil, and drainage conditions.

Below are just a few of the combinations working well in our gardens. We hope to bring you more as the seasons and gardens change. Enjoy!

Carex oshimensis EverColor® Everest and Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’

Nassella tenuissima and Stokesia laevis

Eragrostis spectabilis and Nepeta racemosa ‘Felix’

Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Bleeding Hearts’, Eragrostis elliottii ‘Wind Dancer’, and Cuban Oregano

Vernonia lettermannii and Panicum virgatum ‘Thundercloud’

Chasmanthium latifolium, Aspidistra elatior, and Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’
Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, Stachys byzantina ‘Helen von Stein’, and Nepeta fassenii ‘Walker’s Low’

Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Panicum virgatum ‘Thundercloud’ and Aster oblongifolius

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