GARDEN KNOW HOW

Ornamental Grass With Flowers

Miscanthus Grass at Sensible Gardening and Living

We normally don’t think of ornamental grasses having flowers but in actuality they do. Although not all that much different than the flowers of other plants they have been modified somewhat. Petals have almost disappeared and other parts of the flower have become extremely small. Most often both male and female parts are found on the same blossom.

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Ornamental Grass in Bloom / Sensible Gardening and Living

Since grass flowers are not colorful or scented they do not attract the pollinators such as birds, bees, ants and beetles, so pollination is accomplished by the wind. The ripening seeds are open to the air and seed heads are light and fluffy for easy dispersal. Flowering grasses in bloom are gorgeous in the garden and the seed heads dried make for great dried arrangements.

For great seed production each species has many individual flowers grouped together in clusters that we call an inflorescence. There are three different types of inflorescences:

terminal spikes: found in Miscanthus spp.

panicles: found in orchard grass

racemes: found in manna grasses

Pollination starts with the opening of flower parts allowing the anthers to spread and shake their pollen into the wind while the feathery stigmas of another flower are ready to receive the pollen. Grass flowers rarely self pollinate. The ovary has plumed stigmas that are able to pick other pollen grains from the air.

Grass seeds come in a variety of sizes and shapes. All are adaptable for their dispersal by animals and wind. Some seeds have a barbed tip which clings to the fur and skin of animals or the clothes of humans. Others have long plumes that float through the air with the greatest of ease.

All the species of Miscanthus have beautiful blossoms that will last through fall and right into winter. A snowfall on their flowers is spectacular as is a good frost. Spodiopogon or frost grass has striking airy blossoms and the Pennisetum or fountain grasses have lovely soft textured blossoms resembling fluffy animal tails. As the seed heads of flowering grass mature they take on beautiful fall colors just when most of the perennial color is fading.