Graceful and elegant, ornamental grasses like pennisetums and molinia effortlessly combine with flowering plants, creating striking and varied plant combinations that can’t fail to impress.
The real boon of combining the two is that, while themselves beautiful, grasses and their more muted tones provide the ideal foil for colourful flowers, helping them to leap out and catch the eye.
Not only this, but with most being wind-pollinated, grasses have a natural inclination to carry on the wind and bring movement to planting schemes.
For more ideas on ornamental grasses to grow, check out our handy Plant Finder.
Discover eight beautiful plant combinations of ornamental grasses and flowers to recreate in your garden, below.
Lagurus and verbena
This combination brings together the pom-pom shaped seedheads of Lagurus ovatus and the garden favourite Verbena bonariensis. Set against a backdrop of golden-green colour, the bright lavender-purple flowers are a sensation, coming together to form a breezy and relaxed mix. Here’s how to grow verbena from seed.
Oval, pom-pom seedheads of lagurus with purple verbena flowerheads
Anemanthele, epimedium and box
Perfect for a shady spot, this combination uses the evergreen pheasant’s tail grass (Anemanthele lessoniana) and Epimedium x rubrum. The rosy epimedium growth provides a burst of colour amongst the green foliage, from which will emerge magenta-coloured flowers from April to May. The anemanthele rounds off the display by turning a rich bronze colour in autumn and winter.
Rosy, heart-shaped epimedium leaves contrasting evergreen pheasant’s tail grass
Festuca, santolina and violas
This container combination marries the muted silver and white tones of Festuca glauca ‘Intense Blue’, Santolina chamaecyparissus, white-flowered Viola cornuta, Gaultheria mucronata and variegated ivy. A smattering of viola blooms stands out all the more against the silvery foliage, while the santolina will continue the display into summer, with bright yellow flowers in July and August.
Silver-grey foliage of festuca and santolina with white-flowered viola and gaultheria and variegated ivy
Alopecurus, dryopteris and leucanthemum
This simple but effective combination puts together meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), ox-eye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) and Japanese shield ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora), creating an airy, meadow-like display. To enhance this combination, you could add other key meadow plants into the mix.
Meadow foxtail with white ox-eye daisies and bronze Japanese shield ferns
Pennisetum and allium
Here, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ and Allium sphaerocephalon merge, combining intense maroon and purple tones, with floaty grass seedheads scattered throughout. Bees and other pollinators will love the alliums, too. Here are more ways to make your garden bee-friendly in summer.
Deep-maroon allium blooms above fluffy cream seedheads and maroon foliage of pennisetum
Phlox and deschampsia
These Phlox ‘Dusterlohe’ blooms stand out so much against the golden foliage of Deschampsia cespitosa that they almost seem to be suspended in air. The neutral grass colouring helps to balance out the bright magenta.
Vivid-magenta phlox blooms amidst airy golden deschampsia fronds
Alliums, molinia and poppies
The addition of Molinia caerulea to this combination helps to add a sense of fullness, that would otherwise be lacking, given that the colourful alliums and poppies have thin, tapering stems. This combination should last from early to mid-summer.
Tall alliums and poppies growing with molina
Fennel, sanguisorba and molinia
This naturalistic planting combines fennel, Sanguisorba officinalis and Molinia ‘Edith Dudszus’, set against an understated grey wall. Ideally suited to a moist, well-drained spot in full sun.
Yellow fennel and bronze sanguisorba flowers with molinia against a grey wall
Need more persuading?
If you need more reasons to grow ornamental grasses, take into account that they’re low-maintenance plants and many grow well in poor soil. Most are hardy, resistant to pests and diseases and are quick growing. Discover more growing advice for them in our ornamental grasses grow guide.