Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' - Feather Reed Grass

(sometimes misspelled as C. 'Karl Forester')

This reed grass is a vertical masterpiece and provides wonderful contrast amongst low shrubs and perennials. Often used in naturalized areas, its ultimate size is directly related to the amount of moisture. Even though Calamagrostis can grow in fresh-water bogs, it also does well in drier areas.

One of the first grasses to start growing in the spring, C. 'Karl Foerster' is an early bloomer, which is an asset in areas with a short growing season. The blossoms change color through the season and remain on the plant until winter snow brings them down. Pick the flowers at different stages of development and create a colorful arrangement. Combine in a vase with rose stems laden with rosehips and place outside your front door.

The seeds are sterile, which means the plant won't self-seed.

Sways gracefully in the lightest breeze. A row or a mass planting of Karl is spectacular on a windy day!

Who would have thought that a grass could win Perennial Plant of the Year, but in 2001 'Karl Foerster' took the honour.

Says C.B. in Anchorage, Alaska: "Karl Foerster thrives here in Anchorage, reaching 7' in my Zone 3/4 garden. It is planted in full sun and in part shade, and seems to do equally well in both."

Description: cool season; clump forming
Foliage is green; medium blade width; 90-120 cm (36-48") tall
Flowers in June through July; 150-200 cm (60-80") tall; flowers often remain erect despite heavy snowfall

Ideal conditions: full sun; moist to wet fertile soil; tolerates a wide range of soil types including dry sandy soil; thrives in clay soil

Coldest zone: 3 - 9 (find your zone; further info on plant hardiness); grows happily in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan, Zone 2 or 3

Suggested uses: specimen, in a border, as a hedge or screen, as a backdrop for roses and other perennials, in arrangements, excellent mass planted or in groups

Partner with: Veronicastrum, Aster, Rudbeckia, tall Sedums, Eupatorium, Monarda, Boltonia, Heliopsis 'Summer Sun'

Season of interest: June to winter

When to plant or divide: early to late spring and early fall

When to cut down: in early spring, just before the new growth starts

Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once every 2 weeks); further info

Recommended spacing between plants: 45-100cm (18-40") why such a difference?

Pronunciation: Calamagrostis (kal-ah-mah-GROS-tis) acutiflora (ah-KYOO-tih-flor-ah)


More ornamental grasses

Compare Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' to our other grasses in this handy chart.


Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'

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