Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are low maintenance and aesthetically pleasing and also provide food and shelter to surrounding wildlife. Most ornamental grasses require few inputs, can survive drought after establishment and do not require supplemental fertilizer. The University of Minnesota evaluates and develops ornamental grasses for winter survival, flowering time, growth habit, self-seeding, and winter interest. 

University of Minnesota Ornamental Grass Varieties

Blue heaven ornamental grass

Blue Heaven® - Bluestem

  • Tall, upright form.
  • Dark blue to burgundy summer foliage shifts to red and purple in fall.
  • Flowers in August and September, and showy fall color extends into winter.
  • Approximate size: 40-48 inches tall and 25-30 inches wide
  • Released in 2008

Purchase a license to grow Blue Heaven commercially

Golden Harvest ornamental grass

Golden Sunset® - Yellow Prairie Grass

  • Hardy to Zone 3
  • Tall, upright form that does not fall over.
  • Features olive-green foliage and a numerous early yellow and golden-bronze flowers.
  • Approximate size: 36" wide and 48-72" tall at maturity
  • Released in 2020

Purchase a license to grow Golden Sunset grass commercially

Blue Heaven® and Golden Sunset® are registered trademarks of the University of Minnesota.

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Licensed nurseries

Below is a list of nurseries licensed to sell UMN ornamental grasses. These varieties are protected by United States Plant Patents or Plant Variety Rights in other countries. Propagation of these protected plants without a license is prohibited, even if you want to propagate one plant. Visit the Office of Technology Commercialization website to obtain a license for Blue Heaven® or to obtain a license for Golden Sunset®.

If you are a gardener or consumer looking for a small quantity of plants, please contact your favorite local garden center. 

Meet the researcher

Mary Meyer

Mary Meyer is an emeritus professor and extension horticulturist with the University of Minnesota Department of Horticultural Science. She has studied grasses and their use in the landscape in Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. for over 40 years. She is the author of several publications, including Ornamental Grasses for Cold Climates, and co-author of The 10 Plants That Changed Minnesota and the online Gardening with Native Grasses in Cold Climates.