Perry's Perennial Pages

Calmagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'

(cal-ah-mah-gros' tiss ah-cute-i-floor' ah)
    Perennial of the Month-- February 2002 

Common name: Feather Reed Grass

Family: Poaceae (Grass)

Height x width: 4-5' x 1-2'

Growth habit: upright, columnar to slightly arching

Growth rate, longevity: moderate, long lived-- 25 years or more

Foliage: to 18-36" long and 1/2" wide, linear, flat or channelled, dull to glossy green, hairless but often rough surface (scaberulous)

Flowers: dense, branched but narrow panicles, mid to late summer, stiff and erect, 2-4' tall stems with 1-2' terminal inflorescence; soft appearance, silvery bronze to pale purple- or pink-bronze, fading to cream or pale brown

Hardiness: usually listed as zones 5 or 6 to 9, but usually grows well into zone 4; AHS heat zones 9-1

Soil: moist but tolerates most, thrives in permanently damp or fertile

Light: sun

Pests and Problems: none serious

Landscape habit, uses: massed, backs or borders or background for other perennials, upright effect, winter effect, living screens, wet to damp areas, wildflower meadows, dried flowers, low maintenance; one of best cool season grasses; combines well with bee balm, joe-pye weed, helen's flower, rudbeckia, interplanted with spring daffodils

Other interest: species occur throughout northern hemisphere, often in marshland and damp woodland; some species may be invasive in warm climates and ideal conditions; name from the Greek words for reed (kalmos) and a kind of grass (agrostis); 3 other species may be found, also variegated cultivar 'Overdam'; Perennial Plant of 2001

Other culture: leave foliage and flowers for winter effect, cut back in early spring near ground

Propagation: division in mid-spring once emerged

Sources: many mail order, perennial nurseries and complete garden centers

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