Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
feather reed grass
- Position: full sun or partial shade
- Soil: dry or wet, well-drained soil
- Rate of growth: fast growing
- Flowering period: early summer to autumn
- Hardiness: fully hardy
A stiff, erect habit is the defining feature of this grass, named after the famous German plantsman who introduced it to the public in the 1950s. Plant it en masse to form a feathery screen, or in small groups to add height and definition to a perennial border. It also looks good planted next to buildings. This is one of the earliest perennial grasses to get going, with shoots appearing in early spring, followed by flowers that are green first, then fade to buff.
- Garden care: Very low maintenance, it simply needs to be cut down to the ground in February. Don’t be tempted to chop it earlier, as its wheat-coloured stems add drama and strong winter presence to the garden.
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Do you think these grasses would be suitable to screen an oil tank in a quite a windy area?
ThanksAsked on 11/8/2015 by JoBo from Berkshire
This can be a bit tricky, as while the more established plants tend to hold up better in a windier spot than the younger ones, I would not recommend growing them in a very exposed position.Answered on 12/8/2015 by Helen from crocus
Q:Hi there, I am looking on your site for a nice upright, oaty-turning grass to add height to a naturalistic planting bed, with the other grass being Stipa tenuissima. But the bed and garden is small, so the tall grass needs to retain a relatively narrow footprint and not to arch too much at the top. Do you have any suggestions? I love Karl foerster, but have been told it's base grows too wide. Thanks very much.Asked on 4/8/2015 by Johnny P. from London
I would not rule out Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' as it does have a distinctly upright habit, and it it does get too big, it can be lifted and divided in mid-spring.
As for alternatives, there are a couple of things that spring to mind - here are some of my favourites...
Miscanthus sinensis 'Kleine Silberspinne'
Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal'
Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'
http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/panicum-virgatum-shenandoah/classid.2000007020/Answered on 6/8/2015 by Helen from crocus
Q:Is this grass suitable for growing in a container? What maintenance would be required in terms of fertilising, repotting etc?Asked on 31/8/2014 by Dahliadarling from Leeds
This plant looks so great when planted in big blocks in the border, but it is possible to grow it in a pot filled with John Innes No.2 too. You will need a biggish pot - I would suggest something with a diameter of at least 45cm and a sturdy base, so it does not topple over. As for maintenance, it is pretty easy to care for, just make sure it is well watered in the growing season and cut it back hard when it starts to look really tatty. You can also give it the occasional feed with a good, general-purpose fertiliser such as MiracleGro from spring to midsummer.Answered on 1/9/2014 by helen from crocus
Q:Please can you tell me how far part these should be planted?Asked on 6/4/2014 by Naughty Nicky
These plants can grow to at least 60cm wide eventually. The planting distances between the plants depends really on the look you would like to create, and how patient you are waiting for them to grow But normally I would plant them 50-60cm apart.Answered on 7/4/2014 by Anonymous from crocus
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