Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ornamental Grasses have become increasingly popular over the last several years. Along with true grasses, Poa, the Carex Genus is included under the classification. Their popularity relates both to their variety and to their three season contribution to the garden. Ornamental grasses vary in sizes from a few inches to several feet. Pampas Grass is easily recognizable and many people have seen small quite blue grasses in commercial landscapes. What many people do not know is that grasses come in brown, blue, red, green, cream, and variegations that don't stop. There are Miscanthus grasses whose variegations are horizontal, and appear even on a cloudy day to be stippled with sunshine. What gives grasses their long season is that the new growth is lush and beautiful, the summer appearance can be spectacular, and the inflorescences (grasses' equivalent of flowers) are often dramatic and long lasting. Many Miscanthus and Pennisetums bloom in mid or late summer, and the blooms are long lasting; many gardeners do not cut them down until February. Some Stipas bloom in the springs, the inflorescence standing almost six feet above the clumps of leaves, and again the blooms last late into the winter. Almost all ornamental grasses are perennials, that is they come up in spring, from their roots, which have stored large quantities of energy, and come fall or winter go dormant. A small percentage are evergreen, and even fewer are annuals. Like most garden plants ornamental grasses are identified by genus (a family group) and species (actual plants). A few grasses are simply species and can be grown from seed. Most are 'cultivars', a particular line of some species, and must be propagated by dividing an existing plant.
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