Ornamental Grass Block Planting

July 23, 2019

Our new ornamental grass trial at turfgrass research north of Ames, Ia is beginning to mature.   The attached picture was taken on July 22, 2019.  This is a demonstration trial that will be on this years turf field day on September 11.  The following is a report on the project that appeared in last years research station report.  Anyone is welcome to come out and see it this summer between 8 am and 4 pm.


Ornamental Grass Block Planting


Tim Dalsgaard, graduate research assistant

Cynthia Haynes, associate professor

Nick Christians, university professor

Adam Thoms, assistant professor

Ben Pease, research associate II



In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the performance of ornamental grasses in the turfgrass industry. For several years, feedback from the annual turfgrass field day has been that attendees want to see various ornamental grasses at the field day. This planting was designed to give those interested in ornamental grass performance an idea of how the grasses look at various times of the year, the spread of the grasses, and it was also designed for classroom purposes. Specifically the planting was designed with landscape classes in mind.

Materials and Methods

This planting is located at the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station and was designed so that plants were planted with mature plant heights in mind for demonstrations at field day.   The plot was designed with short grasses first working towards the tallest ornamental grasses used.  Twenty one different grasses are in this planting and they include Festuca glauca Elijah Blue’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder’, Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’, Helictotrichon sempervirens ‘Saphirsprudel’, Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Overdam’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’, Pennisetum alopecuroides, Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’, Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’, Molinin caerulea arundinacea ‘Skyracer’, Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Bronzeschleier’, Bouteloua curtipendula, Andropogon gerardii, Erianthus ravennae, Phalaris arundinaceae ‘Strawberries & Cream’, Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Blue Heaven’.  Three of the twenty one have yet to be planted and they include a second cultivar of Deschampsia cespitosa, Miscanthus giganteus, and another Miscanthus sinensis cultivar.


Results and Conclusion

No data is being collected on this planting, as it establishes.  Observations will be made next year on how many survive the winter and growing season after a full year of growth. Some of the plants are on the limit of hardiness, and it will be interesting to see if those plants make it through winter.










Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’


Erianthus ravennae


Miscanthus giganteus






Pennisetum alopecuroides


Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder’


Miscanthus sinensis






Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Overdam’


Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’


Andropogon gerardii






Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’


Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’


Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’






Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’


Molinin caerulea arundinacea ‘Skyracer’


Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Blue Heaven’






Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Bronzeschleier’


Deschampsia cespitosa


Phalaris arundinaceae ‘Strawberries & Cream’






Festuca glauca Elijah Blue’


Helictotrichon sempervirens ‘Saphirsprudel’


Bouteloua curtipendula