Chasmanthium Sea Oats

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Sea oats—a departure from typical ornamental varieties

Ornamental grasses add height, texture, and drama to fall décor, and we have a pretty native variety to talk about today: sea oats. It offers a different look than what we’re accustomed to, forming loosely tufted clumps with feathery seed heads that droop from slender arching stems. Sound effects are included, as a gentle rustling can be heard when the seed heads nod and flutter with even the slightest breeze. 

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Use this native grass for naturalizing

Sea oats is one of the more shade tolerant of the ornamental grasses—it can be grown in full sun to part shade. While some say shade is preferable, the blue-green leaves tend to turn a bright golden yellow in fall when planted in the sun. We often use it as a naturalizing element in the landscape so it tends to get a mix of sun and shade. 

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One of the more shade tolerant ornamental grasses

If you think the foliage looks graceful in mid-summer you’ll find it even more compelling in fall. In addition to the golden bamboo-like leaves, the green seed heads turn a rich coppery red, then purple-bronze by late summer, and eventually bronze by winter—providing almost year round color and contrast.

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Provides almost year round color and contrast

Now, we recommend sea oats for naturalizing or a woodland edge especially, because it reseeds easily. To control growth, watch for seedlings and pull them out  if you don’t want them—the earlier you catch them, the easier they are to remove. You can help avoid the problem by cutting the plant down to the basal rosette in late winter, after the show is over for the year.

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Can be used along streams and in water gardens

This grass reaches 3–5 feet tall, with a spread of about 1–3 feet. It is tolerant of poor soils but it thrives where the soil is rich and moist so we use it along streams and in water gardens as well. Aside from pulling out the seedlings it’s very low-maintenance. You’ll see it bloom from August through September.

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A low-maintenance choice for shade

For clients and customers who like indoor arrangements, this grass is great for cutting. It lasts a long time in a vase and does not shed seeds all over the table—it also dries beautifully.

Click here to see more Ornamental Grasses for Fall

We grow sea oats in the 1-gallon pot.

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