17 Best Tall Ornamental Grasses For Shades

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Tall ornamental grasses provide shade and are the latest and greatest in garden design. We use tall ornamental grasses as centerpieces, shields, or protection hedges. These incredibly quick grass species are ideal for creating luxuriant, minimalistic, and tropical looks.

Because they come in many lengths, colors, and patterns, ornamental grasses are great for any part of the garden, especially the border.

Giant Silver Grass, Pachymorph, Tripidium ravennae, Giant Reed Grass, Japanese Forest Grass, Luzula sylvatica, Chasmanthium latifolium, bulbous oat grass, Sedges/Carex Spp, Cespitosa Deschamps, Mondo Grass, Flame Grass, and Sweet Flag are some of the best tall ornamental grasses for shades that we’ll be discussing here today.

Let’s get started!

Tall Ornamental Grasses For Shades

 1. Miscanthus floridulus (Silver Giant Grass)

One of the best tall ornamental grasses for shade is this one. In this case, we’re dealing with purely aesthetic grass.

Miscanthus floridulus (Silver Giant) is a luxuriant, usually multicolored grass that produces clusters that are at least 6 to 11 feet in height and spread 9 to 10 inches across using short root systems.

The leaves, which arch downward, are mostly 1.6 inches wide and 4 feet long, and the stems reach a fully developed girth of 2 to 3 inches.

The best blooming of big silver grass occurs when the weather is dry. The leaves turn a rusty brown color in late autumn and into the winter. Giant silver grass is often referred to as giant eulalia grass.

2. Pachymorph (clumping bamboo)

One of the best tall ornamental grasses for shade is clumping bamboo. Because pachymorphs (clumping bamboo) are small at the base and cower over at the tops, creating enormous spaces between each bamboo planting, pachymorphs leave a lot to be desired for shade purposes.

Even though there are tropical and frost-tolerant forms of pachymorph, it can only grow in a few places.

The climatic range of the cold-hardy clumping species (mostly mountain bamboo) is narrow. It takes them years to reach their height of 8 to 12 feet. Only extremely warm temperature zones are suitable for growing tropical clumps.

3. Tripidium ravennae (Ravenna Grass)

Tripidium ravennae (Ravenna grass) is a type of ornamental grass that grows in clusters 4 to 6 feet wide and 10 to 16 feet tall and makes an appealing shade for low soil conditions that are susceptible to drought.

This clumping grass has leaves with a white line along the middle and a brown coloration come autumn. Huge clumps of purple-brown flowers eventually turn silver.

In most zones, raven grass is hardy. It is a suitable replacement for invasive pampas grass in the calmer climes of USDA zones. Ravenna grass is an excellent ornamental grass for shade.

4. Giant Reed Grass (Arundo donax)

Originally from Asia, giant reed grass is a tall perennial grass. The California Invasive Plant Council and other state environmental protection authorities have labeled giant reed grass (Arundo donax) an invasive species, even though it is sometimes recommended as a quick screen.

The grass is grown in France and is the primary source of reeds for clarinets, oboes, and other wind instruments. This unruly plant, which may grow to heights of 9–30 feet, thrives in coastal waters and along rivers in the Mediterranean climate zones.

Stopping its aggressive spread requires digging up its roots, which can extend as deep as 10 feet below the surface.

5. Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra)

This ornamental forest grass is hardy and long-lived, and unlike most grasses, it prefers wet, gloomy environments. It is mainly grown for its striking foliage.

This lovely tall ornamental grass looks fantastic as a hedge plant, ground cover, or potted plant, particularly in Zen or Asian-inspired styles.

The golden leaves take on a pinkish hue with narrow green stripes as the temperature decreases. This plant can be utilized to enliven woodland regions and rock gardens. They are regarded as one of the best tall ornamental grasses for shade.

6. Luzula sylvatica (Great Wood Rush)

Photo by Matt Lavin via Flickr

Any area, especially in dry shade, can benefit from the ground cover this straightforward and versatile grass-like plant provides. It blends beautifully with fronds and other plants, such as Hostas, and is quite eye-catching in large plantings.

A low clump of leathery, thick leaves called Luzula sylvatica spreads out to create a dense, weed-proof region. In the spring, tiny clumps of green flowers start to bloom.

It is one of the best tall ornamental grasses for shade and stays evergreen in moderately cold winter areas.

7. Northern Sea Oats (Latifolium chasmanthium) (Northern Sea Oats)

Tall groundcover Chasmanthium latifolium thrives in various environments, including full sun, shade, dampness, and saline soils.

This beautiful native species is ideal for your yard’s arid places. It may be planted in both well-kept gardens and deserted locations due to its versatility, and it looks incredibly stunning when backlit by the sun.

It is a cluster-forming perennial that reaches heights of 1 to 4 feet and has stunning turquoise, bamboo-like leaves. Chasmanthium latifolium will spread and repopulate, so plant it where it will have the best chance of success. As they get older, they turn yellow-gold.

8. Bulbous Oat Grass (Arrhenatherum elatius)

This perennial plant grows best in cool weather and is from Europe. It is effective as a focal point, foundation, or hedge plant. It is also a versatile focal piece for any style of landscape. Its leaves form a beautiful, rambling cluster.

The turquoise leaves have striking white-striped foliage and are 13 to 16 inches long. It looks great year-round due to its uniform color and texture; contrary to appearances, its short, spiky appearance belies its soft, malleable nature.

If it seems droopy in the middle of summer, you can prune it back in warm climates so that it grows new leaves in the fall.

Therefore, it is especially suitable to provide interest in your landscape during the fall and winter months. One of the best ornamental grasses for shade is bulbous oat grass.

9. Dwarf Lilyturf (Ophiopogon japonicus)

Ophiopogon japonicus is a perennial plant that stays green all year and grows approximately 30 centimeters tall, spreading its roots far and wide to form dense clusters.

The plant is commonly grown for its medicinal properties. It is frequently planted as a ground cover in the decorative garden.

Ophiopogon japonicus thrives in light to heavy shade. With its turf-like appearance and low maintenance requirements, this small herb is an excellent alternative to grass in areas where the latter needs direct sunlight to thrive.

10. Acutiflora x Calamagrostis

Overdam is the common name for the magnificent medium-sized variegated leaves with white and tufted spikes known as Calamagrostis acutiflora. Its rosy plumes in summer age to a silvery gray.

It grows quickly, reaching heights of 3 to 6 feet. Most gardeners’ preferred decorative grass is this cool-season perennial.

It does well in filtered sunlight, especially in the afternoon. Even though shade is necessary to escape the scorching rays of the summer sun, it can be harmful to plants if they are over-shaded. For bog gardens, Calamagrostis x acutiflora is especially appropriate.

11. Sedges (Carex Sp)

Carex is one of the best tall ornamental grasses for providing shade. Carex has numerous species that look like grass but are classified as sedges. It is a perennial species that prefers shade and has a texture that blends well with others.

Most Carex thrives in moist conditions and can withstand moderate neglect. These perennials can be arranged to seem like glittering stars or serve as subdued companion plants in both sunny and shaded environments, depending on how they are planted.

The variegated broadleaf sedge can brighten up any dark spot in your garden.

12. Cespitosa Deschamps (Tufted hair grass)

The best growth conditions for Deschampsia cespitosa are humus-rich, somewhat shaded regions. If there is enough moisture, it can tolerate the sun. This lovely plant will bloom all summer if planted in a well-drained, semi-shaded location.

To enjoy its beauty, set it up in front of a border that casts shadows. This grass changes from green to golden over the course of the season, but it keeps its bright color and great shape, so it looks good even in the winter.

Ferns go well with the lovely plant, Deschampsia cespitosa. Moreover, it is among the best tall ornamental grasses for shade.

13. Mondo Grass

Mondo grass appears to be ordinary grass at first glance, but it is a beautiful grass that thrives in the shade and produces fruit-bearing blooms. The perennial grass, with its slender, green spikes, is deer-proof and simple to cultivate.

Weeds can no longer survive as they grow too dense. The evergreen grass, which is native to China, has been utilized as ground cover for centuries. They can withstand both salt and drought.

Mondo grass is ideal for adding texture to shadowed areas. It has the same breadth and a growth range of 11 inches to 1 foot. Other ornamental grasses from the Ophiopogon japonicus family that can be grown in the shade are Gyoku-Ryu and Nana.

14. Flame Grass (Miscanthus Purpurascens)

Flame Grass will bring much-needed warmth to any shaded location with its striking amber leaves. It starts out bright green and changes to tan leaves in the late summer and early fall. The appearance of these delicate, snowy blossoms can be seen from August to November.

It is upright and compact, growing up to 4 feet high and spreading out by 3–4 feet. Flowers will produce fewer blooms, and colors won’t be as vivid as when placed in full sun.

But you can use Miscanthus sinensis, which is also called Chinese Silver Grass. It grows well in the shade and has fine, feathery panicles that are very attractive.

15. Sweet Flag (Liriope Spp.)

Lilyturf, a grass-like ornament that belongs to the genus Liriope, is mainly indigenous to Southeast Asia. Although commonly referred to as “lily turf,” this grass has neither the characteristics of a lily nor a grass. It forms a beautiful clump of lush greenery topped with bright flowers.

Liriope is a hardy plant that can withstand extreme conditions like drought, salt sprays, and high temperatures. It blooms in the fall with either white or purple flowers.

It can withstand heat, humidity, and even drought as it grows between 10 and 15 inches high. If you want to view more types that can work in your garden, take a look at Liriope spicata or Liriope muscari.

16. Dwarf Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides “Hameln”)

Hameln is a miniature variety of Fountain Grass, a popular ornamental grass for warmer climates. Its leaves start out dark green but change to golden yellow in the fall before finally fading to beige.

Dwarf fountain grass is a variety of Pennisetum alopecuroides, which belongs to the genus Pennisetum. While full sun is ideal for this plant, partial shade is also fine.

It’s covered in flowery bristles that are silvery white. Pennisetum setaceum “Rubrum” is a cultivar that thrives in partial shade.

You can recognize this type of grass by the purple linear arches and purple flower heads, for which it is also known. It’s a head-turner in bold colors like purple and hot pink or eye-catching patterns like white stripes.

 17. Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia Capillaris)

This ornamental grass is best pictured as a horizon-spanning sea of rosy cotton clouds. When you see a panicle of muhly grass sway gracefully in the wind, it’s as if you’re witnessing something out of this world.

Muhly grass is an ornamental grass that blooms during the warm season and can grow in either full sun or partial shade.

Despite its delicate appearance, this plant is tough enough to withstand dry spells and salt sprays. Also, this grass can be considered one of the best tall ornamental grasses for shade.


For bringing movement and texture to your garden, ornamental grasses are a great choice. Ornamental grasses are beautiful additions to any garden, but the common belief may put off inexperienced gardeners that they require a lot of direct sunlight.

You shouldn’t worry too much about the grass’s preference for sunlight. There are ornamental grasses that can thrive in partially shaded areas.

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