Fall Guide to Ornamental Grasses

In addition to camellias and our yellow mystery plant featured in November’s E-Newsletter, ornamental grasses are a sure thing for Fall interest. In this article we’ll cover a variety of grasses and when to cut back for next year’s plumes.
Some of our favorites include the native Muhly grass, Cord grass, Purple Fountain Grass, Fakahatchee, and non-natives such as Pampas grass and Lemon Grass.
If you have wet conditions, Cord Grass (Spartina alternifolia) and Fakahatchee are great plants as they are found near banks and marshes throughout the Atlantic coast. They adapt well to their environments and can with stand periods of drought and standing water like the natural tides they are accustomed to on a daily basis.
Can also be used for erosion control.
Does not need to be cut back annually, but doing so will give it a manicured look.
In general, all these grasses are great for erosion control as they clump and can take over a designated area. Muhly grass, Pampas grass and purple fountain grass all have showy plumes that will emerge late summer through fall. Cutting them to the ground will encourage vigor in spring’s growing season. Cut them back as soon as the plumes start to turn brown.
Lemon grass is extremely easy to establish and adds a bold texture and unique architecture to the landscape. You may need to give it a trim twice year to keep it contained or give adequate space for it to sprawl over.
Although drought tolerant, all grasses will need adequate water to establish themselves in the new landscape during the first year.

-Vanneza R. Stubbs

Cassia Tree

Senna bicapsularis Commonly Known as “Cassia” or “Senna”or “Butterfly Bush”

Cassia floribunda

This bright colored yellow is sure to catch your eye during the Fall when other plants enter dormancy. It tolerates most soils but is best grown in dry conditions (after establishment) with full sun. Allow plenty of room for this beauty as she can grow in to a small tree reaching heights of 8-12 feet and up to 6-10 feet around.
Be sure not to confuse it with it’s invasive variety, Senna pendula var. glabrata.

This plant will freeze during the winter and grow back in spring in zones 9-11. Prune for shape or to remove and winter damaged branches after the last freeze of the season. Staking may be required as blooms add excessive weight to branches. In general, this plant is low maintenance and a hit for beginners looking for a flowering tree.

-Vanneza R. Stubbs