Wheat Grasses

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Odds are pretty good that wheat is not something you've always wanted to grow in your garden, or a grass that you would think you even could grow successfully as an ornamental grass. Wheat, after all, is a forage agricultural crop grown in the western plain states. Think again. Look at how deservedly popular ornamental grasses have become in the last 10 years or so.

Blue fescue ranks high, for example. And what is fescue but a hardy pasture and lawn grass. That said, two varieties of fescue (Festuca amethystina and F. ovinia var. glauca) are ideally suited for ornamental gardening. Similarly, wheat (Agropyron) has now made its way from the prairie to the garden. Among those that adapt well to domesticity is Big Bluestem (A. gerardii), also known as Turkey Feet, which is a fine accent plant. Growing from four to seven feet, it's a summer bloomer that sports purple flower spikes come late summer and early autumn.

Wheat Grasses in the Landscape

Ornamental grasses by and large are wonderful and elegant additions to the foliage, texture, color, and sound of a garden. That they're low maintenance once they're successfully planted and situated is part of the "wonderful" aspect. They do best, however, under certain conditions. First is rich soil and good drainage. Second is ample to full sunlight.

In planting grasses in the garden, be sure to dig a hole deep enough that the root ball sits just below ground level. Cover with composted soil, water, then pack the ground down a bit before watering a second time. Water once a week until the plant is well established. Feeding the grass with a slow-acting fertilizer each spring is recommended.

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