Stunning Plants for Containers

Outdoor garden plants with sunlight

You’re missing out if you think container gardening is just for space-challenged gardeners or folks with creaky knees or stiff backs. Container gardening is just plain fun, and a few well-placed pots can add spark to landscapes of any size. If you’ve got some big, sturdy pots and you’re in the mood to plant something a little different, consider ornamental grasses.

Graceful, luminous plants that shimmer, rustle and flow in the breeze, ornamental grasses are available in an incredible array of sizes, colors, textures and forms. Some types tolerate punishingly cold weather. Many tender annual varieties grow year round in warmer climates, but you can always enjoy these versatile plants for a single season if you live in a cooler climate.


The perfect ornamental grass

A few varieties of ornamental grasses, although spectacular, are rambunctious growers that can cause real problems when planted in the ground. Containers provide a worry-free way to enjoy these gorgeous plants. Need inspiration about selecting the perfect ornamental grass for your container? Read on! 

  • Also known as muhly grassMuhlenbergia is a drought-tolerant grass that thrives in sunny, dry locations. Look for varieties in shades of pink, silvery white or grey-blue.
  • Lyme grass (Leymus arenarius) displays stunning, blue-green leaves. Also known as wild rye, blue dune grass or sand rye, lyme grass is a lovely grass that thrives in tough conditions.
  • If you have a shadier area, Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) is a slow-growing grass guaranteed to brighten up a dim location with its variegated golden foliage. You may know Japanese forest grass as Hakone grass.
  • Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) is a versatile, clump-forming grass that tolerates light shade but prefers full sun. The color of the spiky, bluish-grey leaves is most intense in coarse, dry soil.
  • A dense, clumping plant with fine-textured, arching leaves, Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis) is available in a variety of stunning colors, including silver, green, purple, and green/yellow zebra stripes. Miscanthus loves bright light, but it also loves regular moisture. Choose a big container for this impressive plant.
  • Another good choice for partial shade, Japanese sweet flag (Acorus gramineus) is a small ornamental grass with a sweet scent and lovely golden leaves.
  • Sedge is available in a huge range of varieties, and Leather leaf (Carex buchananii) is one of the best for container growing. Leather leaf sedge is best grown in sun, where the light brings out the shine in the bronze-tinted foliage.
  • It’s impossible to discuss ornamental grasses for containers without mentioning Pennisetum. Also known as fountain grass, and for good reason, this is a tall, sun-loving plant with fine-textured blades and impressive, arching plumes.