Best drought tolerant ornamental grasses
Grasses are an obvious choice for dry places or rock gardens. They are also a smart choice if you want to save water in the garden. But be careful, not all grasses tolerate dry soil.
In this article you will find a list of the best drought tolerant ornamental grasses. They are drought resistant through the way their leaves reflect sunlight or sway in the wind.
In this article
Briza media (quaking grass)
Briza creates thickets of dense foliage. It produces heart-shaped flowers that sway in the breeze giving movement to the garden. The Briza media is perennial with blue-green leaves. Produces small flowers hanging in the summer on 60cm stems. They become straw-colored when they mature.
Cortaderia selloana (pampas grass)
A fantastic grass that produces lush plumes that can reach 3m in height. These feathers are often dyed pink or purple in late summer. Perfect for minimalist gardens. It can become invasive.
Perennial with slender leaves of intense blue color. It grows up to 60cm in height, initially vertically and then expanding. The flowers are similar to those of wheat, they grow blue and become beige as they ripen.
Perennial that forms graceful bushes. The leaves are dark green, wrinkled and arched and the plant can reach 1.2m in height. At the end of the summer, it presents pendant flowers, creating a very beautiful effect.
Fescue is a perennial that grows in massifs. The leaves are very slender and range from green to intense metallic blue. The color depends a lot on the level of sun exposure. Festuca glauca is probably the most popular, forming very regular 30cm mounds. There are countless varieties of Festuca glauca, with ‘Elijah blue’ and ‘Intense blue’ standing out for their beautiful metallic blue leaves. If this is one of your favourites, here is a guide on how to propagate fescues by division.
Helictotrichon sempervirens (blue oat grass)
Gray leafy herb that grows in dense tufts. It is perennial but winter wears it out a lot. It produces straw-colored flowers with hints of purple on stems that exceed 1m in the beginning and middle of summer.
Holcus mollis ‘Albovariegatus’ (variegated creeping soft grass)
This climbing plant produces tufts of blue-green and cream foliage. In the spring, when established, it gives the impression of producing a white carppete. It grows up to 20 cm in height and the flowers rise in summer.
Koeleria glauca (grey-blue koeleria)
Perennial plant that produces tufts of fine silvery-blue leaves, the margins are curled. It reaches about 20cm. Green and cream flowers appear in the middle of summer and turn yellow over time.
Leymus arenarius (European dune grass)
Plant with wide blue-green leaves reaching 60 cm in height. In the summer it produces flowers similar to those of wheat. It should be planted in a place where its growth is limited, as it becomes invasive.
Melica altissima (Siberian melic)
Perennial, delicate and vertical growth plant with tufts of soft leaves. The ‘atropurpurea’ variety has dark purple flowers that grow on 1m stems during the summer.
Pennisetum (fountain grass)
It produces thickets of foliage from which flowers are born on top of the stems. It is a very popular grass and there are many varieties available, in size, color, etc. In cold areas it is grown as an annual. We have this article on how to divide pennisetum grass.
Schizachyrium scoparium (blue stem)
It presents tufts of greyish-green leaves that turn to orange tones in autumn. The flowers appear from the middle of summer until the end of autumn and reach 1m in height.
Stipa (golden oats)
Stipa are decorative grasses that produce beautiful inflorescences like plumes. It is one of the most popular grasses, highlighting some varieties such as Stipa ‘Tenuissima’ that grows up to 60 cm; Stipa ‘Arundinacea’ that turn reddish brown in autumn and reach 1m and the perennial or semi-perennial Stipa ‘gigantea’ that can grow up to 2m in height with large panicles that sway in the wind and shine in the sunlight.
If there is a plant missing in this list of the best drought tolerant ornamental grasses, please add it in the comments section below. We and our readers thank you for that.