Calamagrostis x acutifolia 'Karl Foerster'
Calamagrostis x acutifolia ‘Karl Foerster’

A group of small ornamental grasses widely used in landscaping Calamagrostis x acutifolia ‘karl foerster’ (pictured right) is one of the most widely used varieties.

Useful for its ability to grow well in damp conditions most Calamagrostis species will grow well in poor clay type soils in fact it seems to thrive in wet clay soils.

Like many ornamental grasses Calamagrostis cope well in poor soil, are decorative both in terms of foliage and flower spikes, require little maintenance and can act as ground covers.


All species require a degree of moisture and all thrive in clay soils.

Maintenance is generally restricted to cutting back or pruning once each year.

Generally Calamagrostis is cut back hard in late winter to early spring.
As new growth first begins to appear at the base of the plant cut back hard to just above the new shoots.

Calamagrostis Varieties

Different species and cultivars have different attributes, some of the more widely used varieties include:

  • Calamagrostis ‘karl foerster’
    A semi evergreen variety that will reach between 3 and 4ft in height. Suited to Zone 3. With its strong upright habit and feathery flower heads it adds structure to the garden in terms of height and also adds texture to the border. New growth commences early in spring. One of the ‘showiest’ of all of the ornamental grasses. The flower heads will generally hold until winter adding structure to the winter landscape.
  • Calamagrostis ‘overdam’
    A little lower growing than the above, to around 3ft, foliage is variegated and another ‘early’ type’. Suited to growing in light shade.
  • Calamagrostis epigejos
    Lower growing to around 3ft this is a more dry tolerant variety. The flower heads are fuller or bushier than others, creating a slightly more informal effect.
  • Calamagrostis brachytricha
    This is the Korean Feather Grass. Pink flower heads turning to pale yellow in fall. Grows well in part shade.


Propagation is by digging and dividing established clumps.

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