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  • Writer's pictureKassi K.

A Guide to Planting Ornamental Grasses in Zone 5

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Because of their hardiness, low maintenance, and unique appearance, ornamental grasses are a common plant to have around the outdoor garden. However, not all grasses are good for the Colorado environment. Here are 7 popular ornamental grasses that can thrive in a zone 5 environment.


1. Prairie Dropseed

(Sporobolus heterolepis)

The Prairie Dropseed is a slow-growing ornamental grass that thrives the best being planted in full sun and well-draining, rocky soil. This specific grass needs special care and regular irrigation for the first year of its life, however, once it has established itself, it only requires periodic watering.


Plant Characteristics

  • Plant Type: Ornamental Grass

  • Hardiness Zone: 3 - 9

  • Light Requirements: Sun

  • Height: 24" - 3'

  • Width: 24" - 3'

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Attributes: Attracts Birds, Cut Flower, Drought Tolerant, Container


2. Purple Love Grass

(Eragrostis spectabilis)


Known for its seasonal vibrant shade of purple, the Purple Love Grass is a very popular and colorful ornamental grass. This type of grass prefers well-draining, sandy soil and thrives best in full sun, though it will make do with partial sun. The Purple Love Grass is a xeric plant and does not require a lot of water. To prepare them for regrowth in the spring, it is best to cut or mow this plant down in the fall or winter.



3. Little Bluestem

(Schizachyrium scoparium)


The Little Bluestem is known for its beautiful green-blue colors during the summer months and orange colors during the fall. This ornamental grass prefers well-draining, rocky soil and only requires regular watering during the beginning of its life. It is important to note that the Little Bluestem plant produces fluffy white seeds that are easily blown away in the wind and will often grow wherever they land.


Plant Characteristics

  • Plant Type: Ornamental Grass

  • Hardiness Zone: 3 - 8

  • Light Requirements: Sun

  • Height: 24" - 3'

  • Width: 15" - 18"

  • Foliage Color: Blue, Green

  • Fall Color: Red

  • Attributes: Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Winter Interest


4. Muhly 'Undaunted Ruby'

(Muhlenbergia reverchonii)

Muhly Grass is known for its beautiful, dusty pink, feathery foliage. This ornamental grass can be planted in any type of soil as long as it is well-draining. This grass thrives best when planted during the spring or fall and does best with regular irrigation during its first year of growth. This plant is extremely hardy and can withstand a lack of water and many weather conditions once it is established.


Plant Characteristics

  • Plant Type: Ornamental Grass

  • Hardiness Zone: 5 - 10

  • Light Requirements: Sun

  • Height: 15" - 18"

  • Width: 18" - 24"

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Attributes: Winter Interest


5. Hameln Fountain Grass

(Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’)

Known for its fountain-like appearance, the Hameln Fountain Grass is a beautiful addition to any type of landscape. This ornamental grass offers foxtail-like blooms that come in a variety of colors during the summer months. This grass grows best when planted in well-draining, fertile soil, and while it can tolerate some shade, it will thrive in full-sun conditions.


Plant Characteristics

  • Plant Type: Ornamental Grass

  • Hardiness Zone: 5 - 9

  • Light Requirements: Partial Sun, Sun

  • Height: 24" - 3'

  • Width: 24" - 30"

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Attributes: Winter Interest


6. Feather Reed Grass 'Karl Foerster'

(alamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster')

The Feather Reed Grass is an extremely adaptable plant that only requires minimum care. This ornamental grass thrives best in rich, moist soil, though it can tolerate dry soil as well. As with most other ornamental grasses, this grass requires regular irrigation during its first year, but after it is established, it does well with minimal care. This plant does need to be trimmed back to encourage new growth. Because of their sturdy, upright growth, these grasses make for lovely visual interest throughout the winter season. Because of this, trimming back the dead foliage is typically done in late winter or early spring.


Plant Characteristics

  • Plant Type: Ornamental Grass

  • Hardiness Zone: 3 - 8

  • Light Requirements: Partial Sun, Sun

  • Height: 3" - 6'

  • Width: 18" - 3'

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Attributes: Drought Tolerant, Easy Care, Winter Interest


7. Zebra Grass

(Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus')

Known for its zebra-like stripes, this grass makes a unique addition to any garden. Zebra Grass thrives best when planted in a sunny environment and moist soil, but can make do with drier soil. It is best to prune back the dead foliage of this plant in the winter to encourage it to regrow again in the spring. This ornamental grass is not fond of excessive shade and is known to droop without regular sun exposure.


Plant Characteristics

  • Plant Type: Ornamental Grass

  • Hardiness Zone: 5 - 9

  • Light Requirements: Partial Sun, Sun

  • Height: 6' - 8'

  • Width: 4' - 6'

  • Foliage Color: Green, Multicolor, Yellow

  • Attributes: Winter Interest


Ornamental Grasses Make Unique Additions

Hardy grasses like these can make decorating your landscape simple, while still adding color, texture, and varying shapes and sizes. These perennial grasses are perfect for xeric landscapes, are extremely simple to care for, and add an element of beauty to any space. Let us know if you have any questions or want more information on the right ornamental grass for your space!

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