Botanical name: Calamagrostis
Common name: feather reed-grass
This elegant ornamental grass produces upright feathery flower plumes in summer that rise from clumps of narrow, arching leaves. The seedheads fade to golden by autumn and last into winter. Weave calamagrostis through mixed borders or plant as a backdrop, team it with other grasses, or use in prairie-style plantings with late-flowering perennials such as echinaceas and rudbeckias.
Thin stems carry fluffy, tapering heads of silvery to pinkish-brown or bronze flowers from midsummer, turning into golden seedheads in autumn. These stand above dense clumps of upright to arching, narrow leaves, sometimes striped or edged with white or yellow. The top growth dies back over winter, then fresh shoots sprout from the base in spring.
Calamagrostis grow well in most soil types, especially those that stay moist. They like full sun, but will cope with a little shade for part of the day.
They don’t like very dry, poor soil or deep shade. In winter, the faded seedheads can be flattened by wind in exposed sites, so plant in a sheltered spot.
Did you know?
Calamagrostis is a ‘cool season’ grass, which means it starts to grow very early in spring, as soon as the temperature gets above freezing. So make sure you cut back the old faded stems and leaves promptly in late winter, before there’s any risk of damaging newly emerging shoots.
Ornamental grasses: cutting back
Ornamental grasses: dividing
Ornamental grasses: selection
Perennials: cutting back
Prairie planting: creation and maintenance
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