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Grasses


Side-oats Grama

Bouteloua curtipendula

Grand boutelou

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: Eastern Ontario
Location at the FWG: Backyard Garden
Backyard garden bed: OM SO
Flower colour: Purplish
Type: grass
Blooming time: Summer
Height: 50-75 cm (1.5-2')
Light requirements: Sun
Moisture requirements: Average
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Prairies. Not found locally in the wild.

Wildlife use: Seeds are food for birds.

Notes: Native warm-season prairie grass. Attractive; seeds hang gracefully from the side of the stem. Drought tolerant. Forms a dense clump and spreads slowly. Attracts birds.

Propagation: Easy to grow from seed, which requires cold, dry stratification for several months.

Provenance:



Canada Wild Rye

Elymus canadensis

Élyme du Canada

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: North American
Location at the FWG: Backyard Garden
Backyard garden bed: OM
Flower colour: Greenish
Type: grass
Blooming time: Summer
Height: 1-1.5 m (3-5')
Light requirements: Full sun
Moisture requirements: Average to dry
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Prairies, meadows. Very rare in the Ottawa region.

Wildlife use: Seed eaten by birds and small mammals.

Notes: Tall, easy to grow, cool-season grass with attractive gold seed plumes. Forms clumps. Drought tolerant. Self-seeds.

Propagation: Start from seed. Good germination. Takes 2 years to mature.

Provenance:



Bottlebrush Grass

Elymus hystrix

Élyme étalé

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: Eastern Ontario
Location at the FWG: Backyard Garden; Ash Woodlot
Backyard garden bed: WW
Flower colour: Green
Type: grass
Blooming time: Fall
Height: 30-45 cm (1-1.5')
Light requirements: Sun to part shade
Moisture requirements: Average to dry
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Dry woodlands. Uncommon in the Ottawa region.

Wildlife use: Seeds eaten by birds.

Notes: One of the few grasses that will grow in semi-shade. Will grow in a variety of soils, even clay. Bristly seed heads look like bottle brushes. Extend well above the foliage.

Propagation: Very easy to grow from seed.

Provenance: Seeds from Gardens North



Switchgrass

Panicum virgatum

Panic érigé

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: Eastern Ontario
Location at the FWG: Backyard Garden
Backyard garden bed: OM
Flower colour: Yellow
Type: grass
Blooming time: Late summer
Height: 1-2 m (3-6')
Light requirements: Full sun
Moisture requirements: Average
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Meadow and prairie. Rare in the Ottawa region.

Wildlife use: Seeds attract birds.

Notes: Warm season grass (roots grow only when soil is warm). Sod forming, but speads slowly. Low maintenance. Adapts to a wide range of soil conditions, including dry. Not suitable for most small gardens, but may be very effective along a the edge of a stream or as a screen. Good for stabilizing slopes prone to erosion. In the garden, tends to fall over in late summer.

Propagation: Easy from seed.

Provenance:



Indian Grass

Sorghastrum nutans

Faux-sorgho penché

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: Eastern Ontario
Location at the FWG: Backyard Garden
Backyard garden bed: OM
Flower colour: Yellow
Type: grass
Blooming time: Late summer
Height: 90-150 cm (3-5')
Light requirements: Sun
Moisture requirements: Average to moist
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Tallgrass prairies. Very rare in the Ottawa region.

Wildlife use: Seeds for birds.

Notes: Warm season grass. Not suitable for a small garden.

Propagation: Easy to grow from seed.

Provenance:



Red-top

Agrostis gigantea

Agrostide blanche

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: Eastern Ontario
Location at the FWG: Old Field; other open areas.
Backyard garden bed:
Flower colour: Yellow
Type: grass
Blooming time: Late spring
Height: 60 cm (2')
Light requirements: Sun
Moisture requirements: Average to dry
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Dry open areas. Common in the Ottawa region.

Wildlife use:

Notes: Spreads rapidly.

Propagation: Grow from seed. Cold stratification not required.

Provenance:



Canada Bluejoint

Calamagrostis canadensis

Foin bleu

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: Eastern Ontario
Location at the FWG:
Backyard garden bed:
Flower colour: Green
Type: grass
Blooming time: Summer
Height: 40-120 cm (1.5-4')
Light requirements: Sun
Moisture requirements: Average to moist
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Occurs in many conditions. Common in the Ottawa region.

Wildlife use:

Notes: Sod forming, cool-season grass. Spreads quickly by rhizomes.

Propagation: By seed. No treatment required. Because this species spreads so quickly, it is easier to propagate by dividing.

Provenance:



Rice Cut-grass

Leersia oryzoides

Léersie faux-riz

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: Eastern Ontario
Location at the FWG: Next to Amphibian Pond
Backyard garden bed:
Flower colour: Yellow
Type: grass
Blooming time: Late summer
Height: 50-90 cm (1.5-2.5')
Light requirements: Sun
Moisture requirements: Moist
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Edges of lakes, ponds, ditches. Common in the Ottawa region.

Wildlife use:

Notes: Warm-season grass. Called cut-grass because it has tiny barbs along the edges of its leaves; they catch on clothing, and can cut skin. Spreads at a moderate rate.

Propagation: Not tried. Apparently difficult.

Provenance:



Mexican Muhly

Muhlenbergia mexicana

Muhlenbergie du Mexique

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: Eastern Ontario
Location at the FWG: Field north of Ash Woodlot
Backyard garden bed: EN
Flower colour: Green
Type: grass
Blooming time: Late summer
Height: 60 cm (2')
Light requirements: Sun to part shade
Moisture requirements: Average to moist
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Clearings. Common in the Ottawa region.

Wildlife use:

Notes: Warm season grass. Forms clumps. Graceful bending seed heads. Spreads by rhizomes, but not quickly.

Propagation: Easy to grow from seed. No treatment required.

Provenance: Calabogie area



Big Bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

Barbon de Gérard

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: North America
Location at the FWG: Backyard Garden
Backyard garden bed: OM
Flower colour: ?
Type: grass
Blooming time: Late summer
Height: 1-1.5 m (3-5')
Light requirements: Sun to part shade
Moisture requirements: Dry
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Tall-grass prairie. Not found in the wild in the Ottawa area.

Wildlife use: Birds eat the seeds.

Notes: Warm season grass. Forms sod rather than clumps, so needs lots of room to spread. Blue-green foliage. Too much moisture and too fertile soil will cause flower stems to fall over.

Propagation: Not tried.

Provenance:



Little Bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium

Barbon à balais

Family: Grass (Poaceae)
Native to: Eastern Ontario
Location at the FWG: Backyard Garden
Backyard garden bed: SO
Flower colour: ?
Type: grass
Blooming time: Late summer
Height: 70-120 cm (2-4')
Light requirements: Sun
Moisture requirements: Average to dry
Soil: Average
pH: Neutral

Natural habitat: Prairies and open woods, dry fields. Not found in the wild in the Ottawa area.

Wildlife use: Birds eat the seeds.

Notes: Warm season grass, clump forming, grey-green foliage. Too much moisture and too fertile soil will cause flower stems to fall over.

Propagation: Fairly easy from seed.

Provenance:



This page was revised on 11 February 2013
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