Oct 11, 2022 - News

Three ornamental native Utah grass varieties to plant in the fall

Blue gramma grass is in a garden with other plants.

Blue Grama grass flutters in the morning sun at the Conservation Garden Park in West Jordan. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

Erin here! With summer getting longer and fall getting hotter, it might be time to rethink when "gardening season" actually occurs.

  • In my experience, hardy ornamental grasses and shrubs do well when I plant them in October — and even into November.
  • They establish fine when it's not too hot, and then they get winter precipitation early in their growth.

Many nurseries focus on non-native grasses, but some amazing bunch grasses are native to Utah.

A blue gramma grass seedhead glows in the sun.
A Blue Gramma seedhead catches the sun. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

1. Blue Grama

The eyelash-looking seed heads flutter sideways like little flags, catching low rays of the sun in a dramatic display.

Size: Mine are 12–18 inches wide and 18–24 inches tall, but some cultivars reportedly grow to 3 feet wide and tall.

Flowers and grasses show their warm fall colors.
Little Bluestem appears at the far right, turning pink as fall sets in. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

2. Little bluestem

In summer it's a serviceable green bunchgrass. In fall it's on fire as its blades turn purple, pink and red.

Size: 18-24 inches tall, 12 inches wide.

Plants grow in a parking strip, in front of grass seedheads growing in plumes.
Alkali Sacaton seedheads rise behind the yellow and brown flowers of a Mexican Hat. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

3. Alkali Sacaton

Seedheads rise in creamy plumes off this plant in late summer, softening the often sharp texture of other arid-climate plants.

  • This can be hard to find for sale, but some nurseries can order it.

Size: 2–3 feet wide and 3 feet tall.


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