Calamagrostis, aka Feather Reed Grass, is a popular choice for gardeners due to its attractive appearance and adaptability to a variety of growing conditions. Unlike other ornamental grasses that tend to droop after blooming, feather reed grass maintains a neat and upright appearance throughout the year, making it a good choice for planting on inclined soil or in other places where erosion is a problem.
Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) is a species of grass in the Poaceae family. It is a hybrid grass, a cross between two species of Calamagrostis. The genus name derives from the Greek words kalamos meaning reed and agrostis meaning a type of grass. The hybrid name acutiflora derives from the Latin words acutus meaning “sharp-pointed” and flora in honour of the Roman goddess of flowering plants, Flora.
Calamagrostis is commonly grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive appearance, which includes tall, feathery plumes that provide year-round interest and add vertical interest to the garden. Feather reed grass is adaptable to a range of growing conditions, including full sun and partial shade, and is relatively low maintenance, requiring little fertilization, irrigation, and pruning.
Feather Reed Grass is not inherently dangerous for a garden, but it can have a negative impact on the environment if it is not properly managed. If it is planted in an area where it is not native, it can become invasive and outcompete native vegetation, leading to a decline in biodiversity. Additionally, in some areas, Feather Reed Grass can serve as a host for pests and diseases that can spread to other plants in the garden.
Feather Reed Grass is not generally considered harmful to humans or pets. However, like any plant, it can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some individuals. If you or your pets have a history of plant allergies, it is recommended to handle the plant with caution or avoid it altogether.
Additionally, it is important to be mindful of any chemicals or products used in the maintenance of the plant, as they can be harmful if ingested or come into contact with the skin. It is always advisable to follow safety guidelines and use protective gear when handling chemicals in the garden.
Want to learn more about growing and caring for Calamagrostis, aka Feather Reed Grass? Keep reading our article!
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|Botanical Name||Calamagrostis x acutiflora|
|Common Name||Feather Reed Grass, Reed Grass|
|Plant Type||Perennial grass|
|Mature Size||up to 1-1.5 meters (3–5 feet) tall, 0.5 – 0.7 meters (1.5–2.5 feet) wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Well-draining, rich, moist|
|Soil pH||Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline|
|Bloom Time||Summer – Fall|
|Flower Color||Pinkish Purple|
|Hardiness Zones||4a-11a (USDA)|
|Native Area||Europa, Asia|
About Calamagrostis x Acutiflora
- Calamagrostis x Acutiflora commonly known as Feather Reed Grass is a genus of grasses in the Poaceae family. It includes a variety of species, many of which are grown as ornamental plants for their attractive foliage and plumes. Feather Reed Grass is one of the most popular ornamental grasses in the Calamagrostis genus and is commonly used in gardens and landscapes for its attractive appearance and versatility.
- The reed grass genus consists of about 250 species of cool-season grasses that thrive in moist to wet areas in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Reed grasses will generally grow in large, dense clumps.
- It is not clear where the first Calamagrostis x acutiflora was planted, as the species is a hybrid and may have originated in several different locations. However, it has been widely cultivated and used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes in many countries around the world.
- It is generally considered that the most popular Calamagrostis cultivar is ‘Karl Foerster’. The cultivar was named in honour of German nurseryman, Karl Foerster, who reportedly discovered this variety in the Hamburg Botanical Garden in the 1930s. Foerster introduced this type of reed grass into commerce in the 1950s.
This variety was named Plant of the Year, in 2021, by the Perennial Plant Association and it was described as “one of the most versatile, attractive, and low maintenance ornamental grasses.”
- This hybrid ornamental grass is known for its striking appearance and its use as an ornamental plant in landscaping and garden design. It is also known for its tall, feathery plumes that turn a golden-brown colour in autumn, adding texture and colour to gardens.
- Calamagrostis x acutiflora is not considered non-toxic and the plant is primarily grown for ornamental purposes and is not cultivated for its culinary or nutritional value. Eating Calamagrostis x acutiflora is not recommended as it may contain harmful chemicals or other toxic substances.
- Feather Reed Grass is a hybrid of two species of the Calamagrostis genus: Calamagrostis epigejos and Calamagrostis arundinacea. These two species are closely related and share many characteristics with Calamagrostis x Acutiflora. Its striking appearance and tall, feathery plumes make it an attractive addition to many types of gardens, and it is often used as a background plant or as a specimen plant.
- Calamagrostis x acutiflora is commonly referred to as “Feather Reed Grass” because of its tall, feathery plumes. The plumes resemble the feathers of a reed bird, hence the name “Feather Reed Grass.” This plant is known for its distinctive appearance, which features long, narrow leaves and spikes of fluffy, feather-like flowers that emerge in the summer and persist into the fall.
Calamagrostis x Acutiflora Features: An Overview
- Calamagrostis x acutiflora, or Feather Reed Grass, is an ornamental grass species that is prized for its attractive appearance and ease of maintenance.
- Height: Feather Reed Grass can grow up to 6 feet tall, making it an excellent choice for background plantings or as a specimen plant in the landscape.
- Leaves: The leaves of Feather Reed Grass are narrow, green, and upright, adding a vertical element to the garden.
- Flowers: Feather Reed Grass produces spikes of fluffy, feather-like flowers that emerge in the summer and persist into the fall. The flowers are typically a light beige colour, but they can turn golden-brown in the autumn. In early summer, flower stems 5-6 feet tall appear. The heads of the loose, feathery blooms will be green at first and will open to airy, rosy-pink plumes. The colour of the blooms will change to dark maroon, bronze, and golden tan as time passes. Calamagrostis has great ornamental value as the plants’ flower stalks remain upright through the cold season and have ornamental value year round..
- The aforementioned ‘Karl Foerster’ will bloom a few weeks earlier than the common types of feather reed grass.
- Maintenance: Feather Reed Grass is low maintenance, requiring only occasional watering and cutting back in the winter. It is also resistant to many pests and diseases, making it a good choice for gardeners who want a low-maintenance plant.
- Adaptability: Feather Reed Grass is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions, including different soil types and exposure to full sun or partial shade.
- Ornamental Value: Feather Reed Grass is a beautiful ornamental grass that adds texture, height, and interest to gardens. Its feathery plumes are particularly striking, and its tall stature makes it an excellent choice for background plantings. You can also use Calamagrostis in fresh or dried arrangements as the stems harvested from young plants can last for months in a floral arrangement. Calamagrostis is commonly used by gardeners and florists worldwide as it maintains its tan colour for a long time.
Growing Calamagrostis x Acutiflora
Growing Feather Reed Grass is relatively easy, as this ornamental is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions.
The first thing you need to do is choose the right location. Feather reed grass prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. It can grow in a wide range of soils, but it performs best in moist, fertile soil. Before planting, remove any weeds or debris from the planting area and till the soil to a depth of 12 inches. If necessary, amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.
Feather reed grass is best planted in the spring or fall. Space the plants 18-24 inches apart, and plant them at the same depth they were growing in their containers. Tamp the soil down around the roots and water thoroughly to settle the soil and eliminate any air pockets. This plant requires regular watering during its first growing season to establish a healthy root system.
Feather reed grass typically grows to be 3-5 feet tall, but it may need to be cut back in the late winter to maintain its shape and prevent it from becoming too leggy. You can also remove any yellow or brown foliage during the growing season to keep the plant looking neat and tidy. In colder climates, feather reed grass may need to be protected from heavy snow and winter winds to prevent damage to the foliage. You can wrap the plant in burlap or apply a layer of mulch around the base to provide extra insulation.
Planting Calamagrostis x Acutiflora
Planting Calamagrostis x acutiflora, also known as feather reed grass, is a simple process. Choose the spot where you want to plant it. Make sure your plant will have plenty of sun and well-drained soil. If you have heavy clay or poorly drained soil, consider planting the grass in a raised bed or planting on a slight slope to improve drainage.
Take care of the soil before planting Feather Reed Grass by getting rid of weeds or any debris from the area selected. If the soil needs to be improved amend it with compost or other organic matter for better drainage and fertility. Aim for a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
Feather Reed Grass is best planted in the spring or fall when the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Planting in the spring will give the grass time to establish its root system before the hot summer months while planting in the fall will give the grass a head start before the winter.
- Hardy in USDA zones 4-9. Due to varying agricultural regulations, we do not ship to the following states: AK, AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA and HI.
- Full Sun, Part Shade
- 2001 Perennial Plant of the Year. While the 18–24" foliage grows in a handsome, arching clump, it is the tall, slender upright flower spikes that distinguish this grass. The graceful golden spikes rise 4–5' above the foliage in May and June. Feather Reed Grass will tolerate some shade, but prefers moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Like the species, ‘Karl Foerster’ works well with a myriad of woodies, perennials, and other grasses. Plant 30” apart
- When received, the plant will be in seasonal condition with appropriate foliage. If shipped between November 1st and March 1st, plant may be dormant and trimmed. Plant is fully rooted in the pot ready for immediate planting
- Deer-Leerious (highly deer resistant plants)
- Grown, packaged and shipped exclusively by Florida Foliage. Create a stunning vertical effect with feathery stalks that emerge reddish brown in spring and turn a rich golden color in fall. Blooms two to three weeks earlier than common feather reed grass. Thrives in wet soils, yet tolerates drier conditions. Stalks make great cut flowers. Sterile seeds do not produce unwanted seedlings.
- This low growing ornamental grass is colorful and ever changing. With feathery flower spikes that emerge reddish-brown in spring and turn golden to buff in fall, it adds a lovely accent to naturalist, craftsman, or prairie gardens. Use as a vertical among low-growing plants or have a pair planted in distressed metal pots or bronzed urns for a minimalist look. Perfect near water gardens or terraced patios where the breeze causes the grass to sway gracefully.
- Thrives in rich, moist soils, but highly adaptable. Best foliage and plumes in full sun; benefits from part shade in hottest summer climates. Water deeply, regularly during first growing season to establish an extensive root system; tolerates dry spells when established. Cut to the ground in late winter just before new shoots appear.
- Karl Foerster is a hybrid grass cultivar that is valued for its early bloom, vertical lines and ability to grow in wet soils. It is a slowly-spreading, clump-forming, cool season ornamental grass which features an erect, slightly arching, slender clump of narrow, stiff, rich green leaves. Leaves produce little fall color, eventually turning tan in winter. In June, tightl
- Karl Foerster is cool-season grass. Cool-season grasses put on most of their growth in spring before temperatures begin exceeding 75 degrees Fahrenheit and in the fall when temperatures cool down. They generally maintain good color through the summer but won't grow much when it is hot. Cut back cool season grasses in very early spring.Cool season grasses tend to look good even as the weather cools. Leave their foliage in place until spring and then as soon as the snow is gone cut them back.
- Stipa tenuissima is commonly known as Mexican Feather Grass, and it a lovely perennial ornamental grass. It has a mounding habit with thin flexible leaves that form thick green clumps.
- Grow as a perennial ornamental grass in USDA zones 6 - 10. Reaches a low growing heifght of 16 inches with white plumes.
- The flowers usually appear in June and turn from green to gold as they mature. They work well planted in containers as well as directly in the garden. They are especially attractive at night with garden lights.
- Sowing Rate: 5 - 6 seeds per plant. Start the seed indoors 4 – 6 weeks before the end of frost season. Press the seed into the soil and lightly cover. Keep the seeds moist until germination. With a temperature range of 68 – 72F, germination is usually within 21 days.
- Transplant the ornamental grass outdoors after frost danger has passed. Space the plants 12 inches apart.
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You can purchase Feather Reed Grass plants from a garden centre or online nursery. Choose healthy, vigorous plants that have not been allowed to dry out. Space the plants 18-24 inches apart, and plant them at the same depth they were growing in their containers. Make sure the roots are well spread out in the planting hole, and then fill in around the roots with soil, tamping down firmly to eliminate any air pockets.
Feather Reed Grass does not require heavy fertilization, but a light application of a balanced fertilizer in the spring can help promote healthy growth. Avoid applying fertilizer in late summer or fall, as this can encourage new growth that may not have time to harden off before winter.
Watering Calamagrostis x Acutiflora
Watering feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) is an important part of ensuring its health and growth. When planting feather reed grass, it is important to water the plants thoroughly immediately after planting. This will help settle the soil around the roots and ensure that the plants do not dry out. After planting, water the plants every few days for the first two weeks, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.
After the first year, feather reed grass is relatively drought-tolerant but still benefits from occasional watering during dry spells. During prolonged periods of drought, the plants may begin to wilt, indicating that they need water. If this occurs, water the plants deeply, making sure to saturate the soil around the roots.
The frequency of watering will depend on the climate, soil type, and time of year. In general, feather reed grass prefers evenly moist soil, so water the plants as needed to keep the soil consistently moist. However, avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other problems.
The best method of watering feather reed grass is to apply water slowly and deeply, either with a hose or a watering can. This will help to penetrate the soil and encourage deep root growth. Shallow, frequent watering can encourage the grass to grow shallow roots, which makes the plants more susceptible to drought.
If you have a large planting of feather reed grass, or if you live in an area with limited rainfall, you may want to consider installing an irrigation system. A well-designed irrigation system can help you to water your plants more efficiently and effectively, reducing the risk of over- or under-watering.
To conserve moisture and regulate soil temperature, consider adding a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plants. This will help to reduce evaporation and prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.
By following these watering guidelines, you can help to ensure that your feather reed grass stays healthy and grows well. With proper care, this attractive ornamental grass can provide years of beauty and interest in your garden.
Propagating Calamagrostis x Acutiflora
Propagating feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) is a straightforward process that can be done in several ways, including seed, division, and rooting cuttings. Feather reed grass can be propagated from seed, but it is a slow process and may take several years for the plants to reach maturity.
To propagate from seed, sow the seeds in a well-drained seed tray in the late winter or early spring. Keep the soil moist, and be patient, as the seeds can take several weeks to germinate. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, move them into individual pots, and then into the garden when they are well-established.
The division is the most common method of propagating feather reed grass. The best time to divide the plants is in the early spring or fall when the soil is moist. To divide the plants, carefully dig up the clump, making sure to keep as much of the root system intact as possible. Then, use a sharp knife to separate the clump into smaller sections, making sure that each section has a good root system. Replant the divisions in the garden, making sure to water them well after planting.
Root cuttings are another method of propagating feather reed grass. Take 4-6 inch stem cuttings from the parent plant in the late spring or early summer, making sure to remove the lower leaves. Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone, and then plant them in a well-drained soil mix, such as perlite or sand. Keep the soil moist, and place a clear plastic bag over the cuttings to maintain humidity. Rooting usually takes several weeks, after which the cuttings can be transplanted into the garden.
Regardless of which method you choose, make sure to plant the propagated feather reed grass in a location with well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Water the plants thoroughly after planting, and then keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged until the plants are well-established.
Calamagrostis x Acutiflora Pests and Diseases
Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) is a relatively disease-resistant and pest-free plant, but it can be affected by a few common pests and diseases if grown in the right conditions. One of the most common diseases affecting feather reed grass is powdery mildew. This fungal disease appears as a white powdery coating on the leaves and can cause the leaves to yellow and wilt.
To prevent powdery mildew, make sure to plant feather reed grass in a location with good air circulation and avoid overhead watering, which can create a moist environment that encourages the development of fungal diseases. If powdery mildew does occur, remove infected leaves and treat them with a fungicide.
Rust is another fungal disease that can affect feather reed grass, causing yellow or brown spots on the leaves and reducing the plant’s overall vigour. To keep rust at bay, it is important to have enough room between plants so air can circulate freely, and to avoid watering from above, as this can produce a moist environment that promotes the growth of fungal diseases. If rust does develop, cut off the affected leaves and use a fungicide to treat it.
Feather reed grass is generally free from pest problems, but it can be affected by aphids and other sap-sucking insects. These insects can damage the leaves and reduce the plant’s overall health. To prevent pest problems, make sure to plant feather reed grass in a location with good air circulation, which will help to reduce the populations of pests. If pests do occur, treat them with insecticidal soap or a systemic insecticide.
Mites can also be a problem for feather reed grass, causing yellow or brown spots on the leaves. To prevent mite problems, make sure to plant feather reed grass in a location with good air circulation, and avoid overhead watering, which can create a moist environment that encourages the development of pests. If mites do occur, treat them with insecticidal soap or a miticide.
With proper care and attention, this ornamental grass can provide years of beauty and interest in your landscape. By being aware of these common problems and taking steps to prevent or manage them, you can help to ensure that your feather reed grass remains healthy and attractive in your garden.
In conclusion, Feather Reed Grass is a beautiful and versatile ornamental grass that is easy to grow and maintain. By providing it with full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil, regular watering, and pruning in the spring, you can enjoy a healthy and attractive stand of Feather Reed Grass in your garden. With its feathery plumes and tall stature, it makes an excellent backdrop for other plants and adds interest and colour to the landscape. Perfect for informal and cottage gardens, low-maintenance gardens, beds and borders, architectural gardens, and prairie gardens, Calamagrostis is definitely a plant that you should consider adding to your garden.
Are you growing Feather Reed Grass? Let us know in the comments!