I love using ornamental grasses and those that are drought tolerant are gold and can be extremely useful as well as beautiful. Not only can that, they can give you great bang for your buck while offering you much textural interest.
The good news is that there is a nice selection of drought tolerant ornamental grasses. Those listed below should give you a good amount of choice.
Zones are listed as well as botanical and common names. You can use this as a reference.
17 Drought Tolerant Ornamental Grasses:
- Andropogon scoparius (Zone 4-3)
- Arrhenatherum elatius bulbosum – (Zone 4)
- Bouteloua gracilis – Mosquito Grass (Zone 4-3)
- Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ (Zone 4)
- Chasmanthium latifolium – (Zone 4-3)
- Elymus glaucus – (Zone 1-3)
- Festuca amethystina – Rainbow Fescue (Zone 4)
- Festuca glauca – Blue Fescue (Zone 8)
- Helictotrichon sempervirens – Blue Oat Grass (Zone 4)
- Koeleria ‘Glauca’ – Blue Hair Grass (Zone 4-3)
- Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus – Maiden Grass (Zone 5-4)
- Panicum virgatum – Switch Grass (Zone 3)
- Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta – (Zone 4-3)
- Sesleria autumnalis – (Zone 5)
- Sorghastrum nutans – Indian Grass (Zone 3)
- Spartina pectinata aureomarginata – Prairie Cord Grass (Zone 3)
- Stipa gigantea – Giant Feather Grass (Zone 7)
With most of the above grasses, you can use just one as a specimen, or create a grouping for a stronger design effect. Need to solve a problem in the garden? Think of how one of the grasses above, with its unique growth habit and form might just be just the ticket!
For example, do you need to screen a view or control erosion on a hillside? Maybe you just want cut flowers or to find the perfect companion for other perennials.
Sunny area? Enjoy the cooling effect of one, or several, of these Blue drought tolerant grasses:
- Elymus glaucus
- Helictotrichon sempervirens
- Festuca glauca
- Koeleria ‘Glauca’
(These typically prefer a sunny spot in well drained not too rich soil)
These grasses have runners use with more caution:
- Phalaris arundinacea ‘Picta’
- Panicum virgatum
- Arrhenatherum elatius bulbosum
- Elymus glaucus
- Panicum virgatum – very nice winter appearance
- Spartina ‘aureomarginata’ – nice yellow fall color
Excellent vertical accent:
- Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’
- Miscanthus sinensis
- Stipa gigantea
- Sorghastrum nutans
- Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus
And finally, these drought tolerant grasses combine really well with other low water perennials, trees, and shrubs.
p.s: If you’re looking for a good book about Ornamental Grasses, I recommend checking out
Carole Ottensen’s book, “Ornamental Grasses: The Amber Wave” I have been using this book as a basic reference for years and like it a lot! 🙂