With their graceful arching form and delicate flowerheads, ornamental grasses are a superb addition to any garden. The leaves add texture and movement, combining beautifully with flowering plants like Verbena and Sanguisorba. The flower plumes often take on beautiful glowing autumn colours as they fade. We've picked six of our favourite grasses for autumn gardens, all winners of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, so you can be confident that they will grow well.
1. Stipa gigantea AGM
As the name suggests, this is a giant grass that needs space to be fully appreciated. Tall flower stems reach up to 2.5m in height, and the delicate oat-like flowers turn a golden brown in autumn, looking stunning in the low sunlight. Cut the old foliage and flower stems back in late winter or early spring.
Height and spread: 2.5m x 1.2m / 8ft x 4ft
2. Miscanthus ‘Flamingo’ AGM
Another grass for a large border, Miscanthus' Flamingo', forms a large clump of arching green leaves with tall flower plumes, purple in late summer and turning silver in autumn. Leave the dried foliage and flowerheads to stand over winter and cut back in spring.
Height and spread: 1.8m x 1.2m / 6ft x 4ft
3. Miscanthus ‘Kleine Silberspinne’ AGM
If you like the look of Miscanthus' Flamingo' but don't have the space, this is the grass for you. It is compact and upright, it doesn't take up the whole border, and the reddish-purple flower plumes provide height and late summer colour, turning silver in late autumn and standing well through winter.
Height and spread: 1.2m x 45cm / 4ft x 1.5ft
4. Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’ AGM
Pennisetum' Rubrum' is an eye-catching addition to any sunny border with burgundy-red foliage and strokable soft red-purple flower plumes. The purple tones combine beautifully with late summer's glowing oranges and reds, turning brown in autumn. This attractive grass is not as hardy as some, so it is best grown in areas with mild winters (above -5°C/23°F).
Height and spread: 1.5m x 60cm / 5ft x 2ft
5. Hakonechloa macra ‘Alboaurea’ AGM
This low, mound-forming deciduous grass is ideal as a low-maintenance groundcover plant or for lining a path. The vivid yellow and green-striped leaves take on red tints in autumn, adding a last blast of colour to borders before turning brown. A popular choice for urban gardens used to soften paving edges.
Height and spread: 35cm x 40cm / 14in x 16in
6. Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ AGM
Tall and upright, Calamagrostis' Karl Foerster' is ideal for adding height to a border without taking up too much space. The erect flower spikes are green in summer and tawny brown in autumn, providing a beautiful backdrop for late-flowering perennials. Leave the dried foliage and flowerheads to provide structure over winter and cut back in early spring.
Height and spread: 1.8m x 60cm / 6ft x 2ft
We have a fantastic range of grasses in our centre, so visit us soon and choose the perfect grasses for your garden.