Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil moisture: Dry to medium
Host plant for 2 caterpillar species
Fringed by long, narrow points, bottlebrush grass’s striking seedhead offers an alternative to showy flowers as an ornamental focus of the native plants garden. The seedhead forms at the top of the plant early in the summer and offers visual interest at a time when few wildflowers are blooming in the shady zones where this grass grows (12). Bottlebrush grass fits the definition of a bunchgrass, which is a grass that forms bunches or tufts but lacks horizontal rooting stems, and therefore has limited spread (87). Due to this growth habit, bottlebrush grass coexists well with other plants in the garden and tends not to outcompete wildflowers (18), which is a risk posed by some, usually sod-forming grasses (11). Another positive aspect of the plant’s growth is that it sprouts relatively early in the year. Bottlebrush grass grows primarily during the mild temperatures of springtime, and is therefore categorized as a cool-season grass (89). In terms of wildlife value, insects such as leafhoppers consume various parts of bottlebrush grass, and white-footed mice eat the plant’s seed (8). Growing best in partial to full shade and soils of average to moderately dry moisture (7,8), this native resident of NE Ohio’s forests is a nice grass for light-limited areas of the home landscape, where it adds a personality all its own.
Photo by Milo Pyne.