Phalaris 

(fah-lair' iss)

Common name: Ribbon Grass, Reed Canary Grass

Family: Poaceae, Grass

Height x width: 1-3' x 2-4' or more

Growth rate: fast

Foliage: flat, 6-12" long and ¾" wide arching away from stems, striped lengthwise with alternating stripes for most cultivars (species is green)

Flowers: early summer, whitish to pale pink loose panicle, not considered a main feature

Hardiness: zones 4-9

Soil: most, thrives in wet or boggy sites, tolerates dry, can be grown in aquatic gardens

Light: sun, less aggressive in part shade

Pests and Problems: none

Landscape habit, uses: massing, groundcover especially for boggy areas, contained water gardens, in gardens contain such as with paved walks and structures as it is quite invasive by roots so site carefully and don't use near waterways or through plant parts in fields

Other interest: native to north temperate regions; genus is from the Greek phalaros meaning shining, refering to the shiny seeds of the species; was the first variegated grass mentioned in ancient herbals and used in gardens; species was introduced as a forage crop and now has overtaken many hayfields; can be toxic to sheep

Other culture: low maintenance with proper siting

Propagation: division any time

Species:

arundinacea (a-run-di-naa' cee-ah)-- main species of commerce and cultivars, with most cultivars of var. picta and often just this variety found

Cultivars: (of arundinacea var. picta), * most commonly seen
 
Cultivar height foliage other
'Dwarf Garters' 10-15" white variegated a dwarf 'Picta', less aggressive
'Luteo-picta' 1-2' golden variegated groundcover, color fades in heat
*'Feesey' 2-3' pink spring, white summer showy creamy flowers early
*'Picta' 1-2' white variegated Gardener's Garters, vigorous
'Tricolor' 2-3' pink, white, green vigorous

(Feesey photo courtesy Missouri botanical gardens plantfinder)


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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