The Best Ornamental Grasses to Consider for Your Tampa Bay Landscape

There are some things that are expected to be ornate. Prom dresses, chandeliers, and certain flowers are a few prime examples. Other things tend to be more comfortable, providing a background on which those eye-catching elements can shine.

In landscaping, grass is typically the backdrop for more flamboyant plants and features. It’s the steady hand everyone expects, the foundation on which creativity can flourish, and the underlying strength that ties everything together.

While this may be true of many Tampa Bay properties, there’s a (not-so) new kid in town—ornamental grass. Rather than subtly fading into the background like the pristine emerald lawns Tampa Bay landscape is known for, these grasses add flair to any landscape they grace with their presence.

When to Use Ornamental Grass in Your Tampa Bay Landscape

The climate in the Sunshine State can be difficult when crafting your dream landscape. The heat is extreme, the humidity makes the air as thick as soup, the sandy soil challenges roots, and the salty environment near the coast limits your plant options.

Despite these obstacles, a plethora of plants thrive in the Tampa Bay area. Stroll through different parts of the region, and you’ll observe a huge variety of plant life populating different properties. Being spoiled for choice when it comes to picking plants for your property raises a valid question—when should you use ornamental grasses in Tampa Bay?

Ornamental grasses are excellent for adding texture and movement to a landscape. Even if your property has plenty of color and plant variety, it may be lacking these two essential aspects of a complete landscape design. Ornamental grasses also create calming sounds that add auditory interest to a garden or property as a whole.

For a visually striking barrier that creates distinct sections of your landscape or privacy between separate properties, ornamental grasses will serve you well. They can grow large enough to provide exactly these benefits in a way that is unique.

The Benefits of Ornamental Grasses

Aside from their compelling uses as part of a complete Tampa Bay landscape, ornamental grasses have a number of legitimate benefits for Florida property owners. While not all ornamental grasses are equal—we have some recommendations for you below—those that are worthy of a place in your landscape will likely carry the following traits.

Subtle Colors

Florida is full of vibrant plant life. From stunning green lawns to brilliant floral options, there is no shortage of landscaping elements to catch the eye. Because of the wonderful colors that are readily available in the Sunshine State, it can be easy to overwhelm the senses with too much of a good thing.

Ornamental grasses offer a subtler shade of color, often appearing pastel compared to their more aggressively colorful counterparts. With shades ranging from luxurious purple to soft pink, the complementary nature of these grasses blends well with the other popular plants in Tampa Bay.

Year-Round Beauty

One of the best qualities of Florida landscapes is their potential to flourish year-round. Ornamental grasses are no exception, as they look tremendous no matter the season. If you want to enhance the year-round appearance of your Tampa Bay property, ornamental grasses are a surefire way to do exactly that.

Tough as Nails

It’s no secret that the Tampa Bay area can be rough on plants. With sandy soil, salty air, and Florida’s oppressive heat, not all plants fare well. Ornamental grasses do not fall victim to this harsh climate. They tend to be incredibly tough, withstanding drought, salty conditions, and all sorts of weather.

If you want to add an exciting element to your Tampa Bay property that you can feel confident in no matter what Florida throws at it, ornamental grasses should be on your list.

The Best Ornamental Grasses for Florida Landscapes

There are many types of ornamental grasses, and a lot of them are fantastic additions to almost any property. That said, we have a handful of favorites that look superb and thrive in the Tampa Bay area. If you’re looking for the right fit for your property, consider the following varieties and think about working with your local professional landscaper.

Pampas Grass

With extremely attractive plumes in either a creamy white or pink, pampas grass is one of the more well-known ornamental grasses. The feathery plumes are unmistakable, adding a soft texture and alluring movement to any landscape.

This grass is quite hardy, especially once it is established. It grows quickly and can reach heights and widths between five and 10 feet. It requires very little maintenance, though it should be watered when conditions are dry. Pruning it each year is a necessity that should be performed by a professional due to the grass’ sharp foliage.


For the quintessential Florida grass that gently waves in the summer breeze, many Tampa Bay properties will turn to lemongrass. With long, beautifully green blades, this ornamental grass is a textbook example of what such plants can add to a landscape.

Lemongrass enjoys hot and humid climates, matching it perfectly to Florida’s environment. It is low maintenance, though it does benefit from annual pruning to remove dead spots. As a bonus, lemongrass has functions outside of looking nice. It can be used in cooking and naturally repels insects.

Fountain Grass

For a splash of color that attracts the eye and enhances your landscape, it’s hard to top red fountain grass. Its blades feature a beautiful gradient of emerald green that fades to brilliant red. Like the other options on this list, red fountain grass thrives in Florida’s hot, moist climate.

It should be irrigated when the soil is dry but will thrive during rainier seasons without much (if any) maintenance. Sometimes, fertilizer can be beneficial, but most red fountain grass will fare just fine without it.

Fakahatchee Grass

Palm trees are one of Florida’s claims to fame, and we could sing their praises the whole day long. For an ornamental grass that echoes this iconic element of Florida landscaping, turn to Fakahatchee grass. With fronds that mimic the appearance of palm fronds, this ornamental grass earns its keep thanks to its texture and shape rather than its color.

With a maximum height of around six feet, Fakahatchee grass can be used in a number of ways—from accenting other elements of your property to creating a natural barrier. It will thrive in moist soil that drains well and can even help prevent erosion once it is established.

Muhly Grass

Beautiful, colorful, and so easy to care for–Muhly Grass is a must-consider for those seeking a pop of something special in their Tampa Bay landscape. Muhly Grass is known by it’s fuzzy pinkish-purplish flowers that can range in spectrum from almost red to soft pink in the Fall, but it’s also got a stunning green shoots that are just as beautiful that show up in the Spring and Summer.

These perennials are often called “cotton candy” grass for their soft and brihgt appearance, but even when those pink fuzzy blooms aren’t present, this is a stunning grass regardless.

Flax Lilies

This spreading perenneial is best known for its wide, glossy leaves and ombre-esque colors that span the width of its stretching reach. They’re a fabulous border plant, a great ornamental grass, and perfect for any section of your landscape that’s seeking a little extra attention.

Easy to care for and durable, these ornamental grasses will fare well in the harhsness of Florida so long as they have access to a little shade during the hottest months.

Pick the Perfect Ornamental Grass with Landcrafters

The ornamental grass suggestions above are a great starting point for Tampa Bay properties to consider. If you would like a more in-depth insight into the varieties that thrive in Florida and may fit your landscape perfectly, feel free to reach out to us.

Landcrafters has been helping Tampa Bay area properties reach their full potential for over 20 years, and we’re happy to share our expertise and knowledge with you. Whether you want to discuss ideas with our team of experts or expand your knowledge by visiting our free blog, we’re here to help.