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Plants to pair with ornamental grasses for a stunning fall garden

By: Garden Gate staff
With interesting texture and warm color, no fall scene is complete without ornamental grasses. Learn which plants pair best with ornamental grasses for a stunning fall garden.

Fall-ornamental-grass-garden-design-ideas-lead

Find plants that pair well with ornamental grasses and look good in fall

There may not be more versatile and impactful plants for the fall garden than ornamental grasses. Though they rarely take center stage, their fine foliage creates depth and texture. They can create a backdrop to showcase late-blooming plants, or they can add unexpected height. Some even turn deep shades of red, purple or gold. Because they are so versatile, a variety of plants — perennials, annuals and even shrubs — pair really well with them. Scroll on for stunning examples of plants to pair with ornamental grasses for fall (more than just mums!), and get inspired!

Fall-ornamental-grass-garden-design-ideas-banana-maiden-grass

Plants to pair with maiden grass

Add height to the fall garden with maiden grass, barberry and a banana plant. The banana plant’s big leaves stand out next to the finer leaves of the maiden grass and barberry. For winter interest, leave maiden grass standing at the end of the season. Its flowers echo the veins in the banana until it’s time to move the tropical plant inside.

Plant list

A) Banana Musa spp. and hybrids
Type Tropical Blooms Large ribbed leaves, rarely blossoms, yellow to cream flowers in summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 14 ft. tall and wide Hardiness USDA zones 5 to 12

B) Barberry Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea ‘Rose Glow’
Type Shrub Blooms Marbled burgundy and white leaves, small yellow blooms in spring Light Full sun Size 3 to 6 ft. tall, 4 to 6 ft. wide Hardiness USDA zones 4 to 9

C) Hellebore Helleborus hybrid
Type Perennial Blooms Rose-purple, pink or white in late winter to midspring, evergreen foliage Light Part to full shade Size 12 to 24 in. tall, 12 to 30 in. wide Hardiness USDA zones 4 to 9

D) Boxwood Buxus ‘Green Velvet’
Type Broadleaf evergreen shrub Goliage glossy dark green leaves Light Full sun to part shade Size 2 to 4 ft. tall and wide Hardiness USDA zones 5 to 9

E) Maiden grass Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’
Type Ornamental grass Blooms Narrow silver ribbed leaves, copper plumes turn silver in fal Light Full sun Size 4 to 6 ft. tall, 3 to 5 ft. wide Hardiness USDA zones 4 to 9

You Might Also Like:
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Up your fall garden game—no mums required!


Fall-ornamental-grass-garden-design-ideas-zinnia-dahlia-purple-fountain-grass

Plants to pair with purple fountain grass

Summer might be ending, but these annuals are bigger and better in the fall, especially the purple fountain grass. The deep purple foliage and rose-gold plumes look that way all season long, but the colors are perfect for fall.

With regular watering and feeding, tidy rows of zinnias that were planted in spring can be as large and full as the ones in this photo. Use a liquid fertilizer, such as Miracle Gro®, weekly right up until frost. Some annuals slow their growth in the cooling temperatures, but that just means the flowers will last longer. Because of that, you won’t have to worry as much about deadheading, either.

Maintenance tip

After a hard frost has killed the foliage, be sure to remove your annuals and dispose of them. Leaving them in place for the winter gives pests and disease a good hiding place.

Plant list

A) Canna Canna ‘Louis Cottin’
Type Tender bulb Blooms Apricot flowers in late summer to fall, copper-colored leaves Light Sun Size 18 to 24 in.tall and wide Hardiness USDA zones 7 to 11

B) Purple fountain grass Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’
Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Showy tan plumes late summer to fall, deep purple foliage Light Full sun to part shade Size 3 to 5 ft. tall, 2 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness USDA zones 9 to 11

C) Dahlia Dahlia ‘Diablo Mix’
Type Tender bulb Blooms Range of colors from summer to fall, dark foliage Light Full sun Size 14 to 16 in. tall and wide Hardiness USDA zones 8 to 11

D) Zinnia Zinnia angustifolia ‘Crystal White’
Type Annual Blooms White flowers from midsummer to frost Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 9 to 12 in. wide

E) Zinnia Zinnia ‘Profusion Apricot’ and ‘Profusion White’
Type Annual Blooms Apricot and white blossoms from summer to frost Light Sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall, 9 to 12 in. wide

F) Geranium Pelargonium ‘Maverick Orange’
Type Tender perennial (usually grown as an annual) Blooms Orange blooms from summer to frost Light Full sun Size 18 to 24 in. tall, 12 to 18 in. wide Hardiness USDA zones 10 to 11

G) Cosmos Cosmos sulphureus ‘Cosmic Red’
Type Annual Blooms Red flowers summer to frost Light Full sun Size 18 to 24 in. tall, 12 to 15 in. wide

H) Mealycup sage Salvia farinacea ‘Evolution’
Type Tender perennial Blooms Blue blossoms from summer to fall Light Full sun Size 24 to 36 in. tall, 14 to 16 in. wide Hardiness USDA zones 9 to 11

You Might Also Like:
How to save tender bulbs overwinter
4 fall perennials butterflies love
Find the right dahlia for your garden


Fall-ornamental-grass-garden-design-ideas-zinnia-Japanese-blood-grass-sage: The Japanese blood grass “flames” are perfect inside this old fireplace frame.

Plants to pair with Japanese blood grass

Wax begonia and twinspur build on the shocking red hues of the Japanese blood grass, while the dwarf blue spruce and mediterranean spurge add a cool contrast of color. Keep an eye on the Japanese blood grass, as it will spread. Either pot it in a nursery container before putting it into the ground or cut chunks out in spring. Pineapple sage adds another pop of red and brings late hummingbirds by!

Plant list

A) Dwarf blue spruce Picea pungens ‘Globosa’
Type Needled evergreen Blooms Globe-shaped, blue-needled and slow-growing Light Full sun Size 3 to 4 ft. tall, 4 to 6 ft. wide Hardiness USDA zones 2 to 9

B) Pineapple sage Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’
Type Tender perennial Blooms Fuzzy gold leaves with pineapple scent and bright red tubular flowers from late summer to fall, blossoms attract butterflies Light Full sun to part shade Size 3 to 4 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide Hardiness USDA zones 8 to 10

C) Japanese blood grass Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’
Type Ornamental grass Blooms Green leaves with red tips that turn completely red in fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 12 to 18 in. tall and wide Hardiness USDA zones 5 to 9

D) Wax begonia Begonia semperflorens ‘Vodka’
Type Tender perennial Blooms Red-orange blossoms from early summer to frost Light Full sun to part shade Size 6 to 8 in. tall, 8 to 12 in. wide Hardiness USDA zones 10 to 11

E) Twinspur Diascia Flying Colors® Coral
Type Tender perennial Blooms Continuous blossoms in coral and salmon from spring to fall, withstands light frosts Light full sun to part shade Size 8 to 12 in. tall, 12 to 24 in. wide Hardiness USDA zones 9 to 10

F) Mediterranean spurge Euphorbia characias wulfenii
Type Perennial Blooms Spikes with blue-green leaves send out yellow-green flowers in early to late spring Size 3 to 5 ft. tall, 3 to 4 ft. wide Hardiness USDA zones 7 to 11

Published: Oct. 15, 2019
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