13 Types of Colorful Ornamental Grass for Fall

feather reed grass

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Ornamental grasses are a wonderful way to add multi-season interest to your garden. Whether grouped in clusters, used to line the perimeter of your home, or planted solo as focal points, ornamental grass can add instant texture and form to your garden any time of the year. The grasses listed here are especially useful for adding fall color to your landscape, with some even maintaining their beauty long through the winter.

  • 01 of 13

    Blue Oat Grass

    Helictotrichon sempervirens sapphire blue oat grass background
    skymoon13 / Getty Images

    Blue oat grass forms a tidy porcupine-like clump in the garden. It keeps its beautiful blue-green color all season long, accented it in the fall with light brown terminal panicles. Blue oat grass can remain evergreen throughout the winter months if you happen to garden in USDA hardiness zones four through nine.

  • 02 of 13

    Feather Reed Grass

    Feather Reed Grass Overdam
    Georgianna Lane / Getty Images

    Feather reed grass is a cool-season plant and will be one of the first ornamental grasses in your garden to shoot up come spring (it will also be one of the first to go to seed). The 'stricta' and 'Karl Foerster' varieties will have reddish seed pods, while the 'overdam' (shown above), turns a golden autumnal hue.

  • 03 of 13

    Flame Grass

    Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberfeder', arching ornamental perennial grass
    Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

    Flame grass can be a flashy addition to your fall landscape and is bold enough to hold attention next to bold changing foliage. The flowers of flame grass burst into a red blaze in early fall, filling your garden with tall, colorful stalks. Although still classified as Miscanthus sinensis, it differs in appearance from its more common cousin, maiden grasses.

  • 04 of 13

    Fountain Grass

    Plume Grass / Pennisetum Alopecuroides
    tc397 / Getty Images

    Fountain grasses are some of the most reliable and attractive ornamental grasses gardeners can grow. The varietal seen above, 'rubrum,' keeps its reddish tint all season long, while 'moudry' is another good choice for fall color—its leaves will stay green as its flowers change to burgundy.

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  • 05 of 13

    Japanese Forest Grass

    Close Up of Variegated Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra)
    Joshua McCullough / Getty Images

    Sure, Japanese forest grass looks good at any time of the year, but its golden yellow color is an especially great foil for all the purples, rusts, and reds typically found in fall gardens Japanese forest grass is slow-growing, creating a weeping effect once it reaches full maturity.

  • 06 of 13

    New Zealand Flax

    New Zealand Flax (Phormium) 'Sundowner Jester'
    Colin Varndell / Getty Images

    New Zealand flax is technically not a grass, but it is often used like one. These standout spiky plants come in an array of interesting colors, but those with bronze and purple in their leaves often become focal points in fall gardens. They also look great—and thrive—in containers, so they're fair game if you don't have a whole yard to plant.

  • 07 of 13

    Pheasant's Tail Grass

    Pheasant's-tail grass (Anemanthele lessoniana)
    Megan Hansen/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Pheasant's tail grass is a breezy, open form of grass that sways and flows with the wind (it's also known as gossamer grass or New Zealand wind grass). In fall, the thin leaf blades become tinged with copper streaks that reflect the sun, creating almost a glimmering effect.

  • 08 of 13

    Pink Muhly Grass

    Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
    Zen Rial / Getty Images

    Pink muhly grass isn't a tall grass (it tops out at just three feet tall), but what it lacks in height, it makes up for in beauty. Come late summer, the plant becomes covered in fuzzy pink-hued flower heads that catch every breeze and add a cloud of soft cotton candy color to the garden.

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  • 09 of 13

    Prairie Dropseed

    Prairie Dropseed Ornamental Grass
    JPLDesigns / Getty Images

    Prairie dropseed is a grass that boasts thin, airy leaves, giving it an overall weeping shape once it hits maturity. When the cooler fall weather hits, the leaves of the prairie dropseed can turn almost pumpkin orange, enlivening any garden with a bold hit of color.

  • 10 of 13

    Red Hood Sedge

    Red Hood Sedge (Uncinia rubra)
    Anne Green-Armytage / Getty Images

    Red hood is a sedge—not a grass—but a well-behaved one. A small ornamental, it grows only about a foot in all directions and boasts a glowing bronze hue throughout fall, making it an eye-catching addition to any garden.

  • 11 of 13

    Red Switch Grass

    Red Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)
    Kate Gadsby / Getty Images

    Red switch grass 'Shenandoah' is the shortest, slowest growing, and showiest of all red switch grasses. At the beginning of the season, it changes from a summery green to a bold autumnal red, with streaks of yellow, orange, and burgundy mixed in.

  • 12 of 13

    Tall Moor Grass

    Tall moor grass (Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea)
    Francois De Heel / Getty Images

    Tall moor grass sits at about three feet tall for the majority of its life. Towards fall, it sends up six to seven-foot delicate stalks that turn the plant a seasonal golden yellow. Its narrow width—and tall flowers—make it the perfect choice for a garden that's a bit tight on space.

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  • 13 of 13

    Vetiver Grass

    Vetiver Grass
    tusumaru / Getty Images

    Vetiver grass forms a thick clump that can reach heights of four to five feet. It's light green in color and can take on a seasonal bronze cast as the weather cools each fall.