Using grasses in perennial schemes is a style that was brought to the forefront of the planting design world by the Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf. His planting schemes are jaw-droppingly sublime, magical and somehow manage to epitomise nature. This ‘naturalistic style’ of planting evolved through observing how grasses and perennials grew in the wild, concentrating on structure and the textural qualities of each plant. It is this link to nature that appeals to many and is probably the main reason why grasses have become enormously popular today.
The Calamagrostis group of ornamental grasses have some useful members - most of which are long flowering, and persist well into the winter with their attractive seedheads. They are well suited to perennial herbaceous borders and naturalistic planting schemes where they make elegant additions to the oft sprawling plants in the herbaceous border.
Calamagrostis brachytricha is a beautiful hardy perennial grass that gives long spell of interest. It produces gentle arching fountains of green foliage, in late summer fluffy flower heads emerge that are silvery-white tinged with pink, they are held slightly above the foliage to a height of 80 to 90cms (32 to 36in). In autumn the feathery flowers take on buttery shades, they last well into winter and are ideal for drying and cutting.
This useful ornamental grass is tolerant of a wide range of soils and growing conditions and is one of the few flowering grasses that can be grown in shade, a rare trait for a large flowering grass. In full sun the habit will be tighter and the flowering more profuse. They do best in moist, fertile soil, are happy in damp conditions and can survive in poorly drained and even clay soil.
Once established the plants are drought tolerant. They grow to around 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) wide although will be smaller if grown in a dry site. They are more or less evergreen and fully hardy, even in harsh winters
Calamagrostis is well suited to use in the herbaceous perennial border and is a graceful addition to the shade or part shade garden. The plants can be grown in damp conditions, in bog-like areas and around water gardens and their compact clump-forming growth also makes them a perfect fit in containers.
Like most grasses, they are quite trouble free and will give years of pleasure through summer, autumn and winter. Remember to cut a few of the flower heads for dried bouquets as they remain open and feathery even when dried.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Calamagrostis brachytricha has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Sow indoors in late winter to early spring or sow in autumn.
Sow the seeds on to the surface of a free-draining, moist seed-sowing compost and cover with 3 to 4mm (¼ in) of vermiculite. Keep at around 15 to 20°C (60 to 68°F) Germination should take place in two to four weeks. Maintain a temperature of 15°C (60°F) after germination until the seedlings are established.
Once seedlings are large enough to handle, take a small clump of seedlings and put them all in a one-litre pot of gritty compost. They will form a bushy plant and be ready to go into the garden in summer.
Plant out at about five to seven plants per square metre.
It is important to give Calamagrostis brachytricha a good start by watering well at initial planting. Supply water the first season, and thereafter it should do well on its own. Adequate moisture is also necessary when grown in containers or when grown in full sun in hot areas.
This plant will self-sow in moist, shady areas to a minor extent but it is easily managed. Move seedlings in spring to propagate.
As soon as the winter starts many people suddenly feel the need to trim plants to a height just above the ground. However, specifically in winter many grasses are a joy to look at. Leave foliage and flowers for winter effect. In early spring cut back old stems to 10cm (4in) from the ground before growth resumes.
Calamagrostis grows out from the centre, and after a few years, you may discover a hole-in-the-doughnut effect. When this happens, dig the plant up and divide it. The preferred time for dividing is in spring.
Calamagrostis flower heads can be dried and make interesting focal or secondary flowers in dried arrangements. To dry, cut the flower at the height of bloom and hang upside down in a cool, dark place to dry.
Perennial Borders, Naturalistic planting schemes, Flower arrangements, Low Maintenance, Containers, Specimen plant.
Calamagrostis brachytricha is native to eastern Asia. In its native habitat it grows in moist woodlands and woodland edges.
The genus name Calamagrostis is derived from the Greek word kalamos, meaning ‘reed’
and agros meaning ‘grass-like'. (similarly agri means field, meadow or land as in the word agriculture.)
The species name brachytricha is from the Latin brachy meaning ‘short’ and tricha meaning ‘having hair’.
Calamagrostis are referred to generally as Reed Grasses, with this one being the Korean Reed Grass specifically. It is also known as, Feather Reed Grass, Foxtail Grass or Diamond Grass in reference to the feathery flower plumes.
Sometimes sold as Calamagrostis arundinaceae var. brachytricha, it is synonymous with Stipa brachytricha and Achnatherum brachytricha.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25mg Average Seed Count 50 Seeds Common Name Feather Reed Grass Other Common Names Korean Feather Reed Grass, Foxtail Grass or Diamond Grass Family Poaceae Genus Calamagrostis Species brachytricha Synonym Calamagrostis x acutiflora, Calamagrostis arundinaceae var. brachytricha
Stipa brachytricha, Achnatherum brachytricha.
Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Silvery-white flower heads tinged with pink Natural Flower Time August to October Height 80 to 90cms (32 to 36in) Spread 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) Spacing Five to seven plants per square metre Position Sun or shade Soil Tolerant of a wide range of soils and growing conditions