News & Updates

April 10, 2017

CA Native Grasses – Plant of the Month

California Native Grasses

California native ornamental grasses and sedges provide dynamic seasonal changes in color, form and mood, while improving local habitat for many ecological species. If periods of less-than-green foliage are not a bother, consider incorporating these beautiful, resilient grasses into the mix.

The upkeep for a landscape quality display is quite low. As long as you match coastal grass to the coast, inland grass to the inland, and so on, the adaptations to tolerate drought, heat, cold, pests, disease and poor soils are already there within the grass’s genetics—no added chemicals required. Keep the foliage looking lush during the dry season by irrigating as little as twice a month and as often as once a week. Some grasses and sedges do like regular to ample water, so site these around a bird bath, pond, or seasonally saturated soils. Light requirements vary from sun to shade, while some like the understory beneath trees, including oaks.

Ornamental grasses can be used in so many ways. To start, plant singly, as a specimen, or create repetition with a mass planting. Interplant with flowering perennials to lay down a soothing backdrop for the main show. Create natural borders, or geometrically place mixed species to create an undulating, color changing meadow.

With the growing awareness that our neighborhoods are inseparable from the greater ecosystem, more and more Californians are discovering the appeal of locally native ornamental grasses in their front and back yards. From short bunches just inches above the ground to soaring flower spikes, native ornamental grasses in the nursery trade is growing in variety and availability.

Check out Devil Mountain’s full list of California Native grasses for sale.

calamagrostis foliosa

Calamagrostis foliosa

Leafy Reed Grass, Mendocino Reed Grass

A cool-season bunchgrass that forms a tidy fountain of blue-green foliage. Use this little workhorse instead of blue fescues which tend die out in a few years. Looks great planted en masse. Arching, silvery-purple seedheads age to golden-brown. Native to coastal Northern California. Semi-evergreen.

USDA zones: 8 – 9

Sunset zones: 4, 5, 7, 14 – 17, 19 – 24

Mature size: 18 inches high and wide

Light needs: full sun, part shade

Water needs: low water

bout blonde ambition

Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’

Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass

A warm-season bunchgrass that spreads slowly outward. Fine, upright leaf blades are bluish gray-green. Unique flower spikes attach to stems at a 90 degree angle. The seed heads emerge chartreuse and mature to blonde. Tolerant of heat, drought and cold. Tolerates mowing and moderate foot traffic. Semi-evergreen to deciduous.

USDA zones: 3 – 10

Sunset zones: 1 – 3, 7 – 11, 14, 18 – 21

Mature size: 4 – 24 inches high and wide

Light needs: full sun

Water needs: low to moderate water

leymus canyon prince

Leymus condensatus ‘Canyon Prince’, Elymus

Canyon Prince Lyme Grass, Giant Wild Rye

A cool-season running grass that forms knee-high clumps of coarse, icy-blue leaf blades. Brightest color in full sun. Sparse, tan flower spikes arise 1 – 2 feet above the foliage in summer. Spreads vigorously by rhizomes to form colonies, and continues to spread if not maintained. Good for erosion control. Drought tolerant, but looks best with occasional spring/summer water, especially inland. A selection from the Channel Islands. Evergreen.

USDA zones: 7 – 10

Sunset zones: 7 – 12, 14 – 24

Mature size: 3 – 5 feet high and wide

Light needs: full sun or light shade

Water needs: low to moderate water

Rescape California would like to thank our generous sponsor, Devil Mountain Nursery for authoring this blog post.  You can look forward to monthly updates from ReScape CA and Devil Mountain about appropriate plant selection


To learn more about CA Native Grasses or to purchase plants, visit Devil Mountain’s Website:

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