Grasses for the Southwest

Grasses for the Southwest.  Most Grasses are easy to take care of. They are not susceptible to insects and rarely need to be fertilized. Most will go dormant during the winter. You can cut them down low to the ground, and they will vigorously grow back during spring.

Pampas Grass or Cortalderia selloana.

This is a fast-growing exotic ornamental grass. Usually evergreen in warmer climates. The normal variety grows to about 10ft high and 20ft wide. Should be planted in groups. Has showy spike flower plumes and razor-edged leaves (ouch)! The dwarf variety called ivory tower is mainly sold at your local nursery. Likes full sun and very drought tolerant. Grows best at about 6500 ft. elevation.

Grasses for the Southwest
Large Pampas Grass on corner street. Las Cruces, NM.


Fountain Grass or Pennisetum spp.

Most grow about 3ft. tall and about 5ft. wide. Purple fountain grass or Pennisetum alopecuroides is a favorite among southwestern New Mexicans. Nice feathery plumes in the fall. They all like full sun and well-fertilized soil. Nice purple undertones for good natural color. It is a tender perennial in the higher elevations of the Southwest.  This grass loves the southern New Mexico and West Texas regions.

Grasses for the southwest

Blue Fescue or Festuca caesia.

Nice mounding exotic pale bluegrass with ornamental flowers. It is a perennial and can be used as a ground cover. Loves colder climates but will tolerate drought conditions. Likes full sun and or shade. This ornamental grows to about 1-2 ft. tall and wide and stays green year-round. Ask your local nursery for more advice.

Use it as a border plant or place in a container for a nice show of bluegrass during the spring seasons.  It will produce a nice looking plume in the fall.

Grasses for the Southwest
Festuca glauca, commonly known as blue fescue, is a species of flowering plant in the grass family, Poaceae.

Pink Muhly Muhlenbergia capillaris

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6 – 9. Lots of tall, delicate flower stems that create a vibrant rosy red haze over the fine-textured, leaves.  They will be attractive throughout the winter. A great ground cover when massed with shrubs and trees. It loves the Southwestern hot climate and tolerates poor soils. This grass is also called

Grasses for the Southwest
Pink Muhly Grass

Fountain Grass (alopecuroides)

This grass produces a clump of narrow, half-inch shiny green leaves most landscapers and gardeners use it for the flowering spikes it produces.   They look great during the early through late fall seasons.  Plant them as a showy single specimen or lined up for edging.  Good in USDA zones 4-9

Clumps of Pennisetum alopecuroides growing in a wildflower meadow. Also known as Fountain Grass, Chinese Fountain Grass, and Foxtail Grass.


Japanese Silver Grass Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 9 Excellent arch type grass with silvery white plumes. Dark green blades with creamy white stripes. An excellent choice for textural contrast in perennial or shrub beds. Put them in a container or use them as a border plant to hide utility boxes.

Variegated sweet Grass Plant

Variegated Sweet Flag Grass  It does good in the Southwest and is considered an evergreen grass in warmer regions such as the lower elevations of the Southwest.  Rich yellow and green long leaves that sway back and forth when the days are windy. Grows about 1ft. tall and 8″ wide but will grow larger in its tenth year or so.

Grasses for the Southwest

Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)

This grass is well adapted to the desert Southwest, drought-tolerant, and easy to grow.  Grows in zones 5-11.  A smaller alternative to the Pampas grass.  It will turn a pale white color during the winter seasons.

Grasses for the Southwest.



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