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Ornamental grasses are gorgeous and are very easy to care for. There are giant and dwarf varieties of ornamental grasses. The large-sized ones offer a stunning view, but several small-sized types are as beautiful as their taller, wide-spreading counterparts.
These short ornamental grasses are low-growing yet offer contrasting color, texture, and interest in the landscape and don’t have the sprawling size and height of their giant-sized varieties. They are excellent for harmonizing the looks of a garden and offer a subtle difference between colorful blooms.
Below is a highlight of some of the most common dwarf ornamental grasses!
Best Dwarf Ornamental Grasses
You will always find much dwarf ornamental grass in most gardens, especially the evergreen ones. Most of them feature multi-toned colors, making them an excellent prospect for beautifying your winter garden.
Again, like the tall ornamental grass varieties, these grasses can resist pests and diseases that disturb less hardy plants. They also offer ground cover that few weeds can penetrate, mainly if grown in mass.
1. Little Bunny (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
Scientifically known as Pennisetum alopecuroides, the little bunny is a dwarf-sized perennial ornamental grass that can reach up to 16 to 20 inches in height and 20 to 24 inches wide. It is a very excellent option for compact gardens.
This specie comes with dark green color during the summer but eventually changes to gold as soon as the fall season arrives and then fades off to buff during the winter.
It features gorgeous foliage that remains colorful until frost season. Creamy-white flowers often grow from the leaves during mid to late summer, just like tiny foxtails.
The little bunny plant produces gorgeous cut flowers for fresh and dried designs. They create beautiful appearances in rock gardens, containers, in front of the border, or even ponds and streams.
2. Japanese Sedge (Carex morrowii)
Japanese sedge is one of the most famous dwarf ornamental grasses, offering visually attractive short grass that is easy to grow.
It has stunted growth and is a clumping species featuring arching, variegated foliage. The sedge can reach up to one foot tall and grows to its full size after a few years.
Meanwhile, if you want to get the best from your plant, you must provide it with moist soil and full sun to partial shade. The Japanese sedge will thrive if you grow it under trees and shrubs and are hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9. It doesn’t require pruning but helps improve the foliage’s general look.
3. Burgundy Bunny (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
Botanically called Pennisetum alopecuroides, the burgundy bunny is a perennial grass that can reach as tall as 12 to 16 inches in height and 16 inches broad; thereby making it a perfect prospect for miniature landscapes.
During the summer, it produces bright green and slowly turns red with the season’s progression.
As the season progresses into the fall, it changes to a blazing crimson, thus complementing various landscapes. The burgundy bunny can also adapt to different conditions, and you can use it as a single specimen or in large quantities.
It is an excellent option for texture, color, and contrast addition to beds and borders and is great near ponds or streams, where it will reflect gracefully in the water.
4. Elijah Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca)
Commonly known as Elijah Blue, the Festuca glauca is a unique dwarf ornamental grass that stays small yet popular. It features icy, blue-green foliage that produces flowers with pastel yellow roses.
Elijah blue has become an ornamental favorite of many gardeners thanks to its unique textures and versatility as a companion plant. Meanwhile, this lovely specie is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, reaching 9 to 12 inches in height and 6 to 9 inches wide.
However, if you want your Festuca glauca to produce maximum results, you must provide it with well-draining soil, even though it can survive poor soils.
Again, you must place it in an area of your garden with plenty of suns to help accentuate its foliage color. Ensure you give each clump of grass up to 10 inches spacing apart.
5. Ogon (Acorus gramineus)
Also known as Acorus gramineus, the ogon is a popular dwarf plant featuring grass-like variegated leaf blades that ranges from 6 to 12 inches. It is designed with yellow and green, yet predominantly looks yellow.
It features little yellow-green flowers that usher in small scarlet berries from spring to early summer.
It is a stunning plant that you can use in various ways and is perfect for water gardens, rain gardens, stream or pond margins, bogs, and ground cover. It can also serve as an aquarium plant. Ogon also helps to reduce stream erosion.
6. Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
Native to the North American prairies, the Little Bluestem (as popularly called) is a drought-resistant dwarf ornamental grass that is easy to grow and care for. This specie derived its name from its silver-blue foliage, which you can find in more than 48 states.
It is hardy in USDA zones 2 to 10. Also, the little bluestem has a deep root mechanism that makes it successful in even the most deprived conditions.
Meanwhile, this plant produces clumps that can grow as tall as 1 to 2 feet. It does best in full sun and doesn’t require over-fertilizing. You can cut the old leaves down by 4 inches during the early spring.
7. Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon Japonicus ‘Nana’)
Mondo grass is a dwarf ornamental grass that grows thick tufts of arched, strap-shaped, green leaves. It is famous for its small size yet produces stunning evergreen leaves.
This specie is a Japanese plant that marvels gardeners all over the world with its beautiful appearance and shape.
With age, the mondo grass becomes a low-maintenance, no-mow grass that can survive under moderate to heavy foot traffic. It is suitable for beds and borders, groundcover edging, and shrub under-planting. It also looks excellent in the city, seaside, and gravel gardens.
8. Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum)
Fountain grass is a popular dwarf ornamental grass, favorite amongst plant owners and enthusiasts. It features subtle, fuzzy flowers that catch the eyes and make a statement for every garden. It also thrives as a companion plant.
However, for the optimum result, do not plant the purple fountain grass in cold winter, which is why it suits those living in zones seven and above.
The Pennisetum setaceum can reach as tall as 3 feet in height and 2 feet in width. However, it will need low maintenance once it matures.
Meanwhile, you can grow this specie of ornamental grass at any time, but the best time remains spring. Ensure you keep it in sunny spots and well-drained soil. Since it is a drought-resistant plant, you can only water these plants once a week or two.
9. Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)
If you are looking for a perfect flowering dwarf ornamental grass to add to your garden collections, you shouldn’t look beyond the switch grass.
Also known as Panicum virgatum, the switch grass features stunning blue foliage in spring, followed by golden flowers in mid to late summer.
Meanwhile, during the fall, its foliage changes to golden beige. The switch grass grows in clumps that can get as tall as 5 feet high and looks great in borders and along ponds and streams.
This specie thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. Once it matures, it becomes both drought and soggy soil tolerant. Prune the old foliage to the ground after winter or early spring.
Dwarf ornamental grasses are not often what you think of it whenever you want to make a statement with your grass and low-growing shrubs for landscaping, yet it is not a beauty you must overlook.
Even though they are small, they can make an extraordinary impact and transform a space completely. You can choose from the variety above to create a stunning atmosphere around your yard.