Spiral ornamental grasses

Updated July 19, 2017

Ornamental grasses can be used to provide landscapers a way to bring more variety into their earthen canvases. Professor and head of the Department of Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design at the University of Tennessee, Mary Lewnes Albrecht claims that, "Ornamental grasses add texture, contrast, colour and year-round interest to the landscape." Spiral grasses, in particular, are an eye-catching addition to any decorative garden.

What Is a Spiral Grass?

Though spiral grasses are used as ornamental landscaping like other speciality grasses, their classification as "grass" is technically inaccurate, since these plants are part of the "Rush" family also known as "Juncaceae." The difference between grasses and a rush is that grasses have flat blades and rushes are round. Rushes come in straight and spiral varieties, the latter of which grows in an attractive corkscrew fashion.

Types of Rushes

Of the spiral variety of rushes, there are a few that can be found relatively easily. The Juncus effusus "Lemon Twist," is commonly called "Striped Spiral Rush" because of the yellow stripe up one side of its corkscrew leaves. This variety grows from 23 to 35 inches in height. The "Big Twister" spiral rush has deep green leaves ranging in height from 18 to 23 inches. The "Unicorn Rush" has leaf structure similar to the "Big Twister," but grows only 12 to 18 inches high.


Being strictly decorative, spiral rushes don't hold up to foot traffic, but are otherwise easy to care for. They require full sun or partial shade with a moist to wet soil. Appropriate soil types for growing rushes are normal, sandy or clay with pH levels ranging from neutral, alkaline or acidic being acceptable. Dr. Leonard Perry, extension professor at the University of Vermont, advises that the most suitable times to plant rushes are spring and fall, though in Northern areas that don't experience extreme heat, summer may also be acceptable.


Because of the rushes' need for moist to wet soil, planting alongside ponds or streams is ideal, but any damp, sunny area is suitable. Rushes may be planted in pots for use as patio decor as long as the soil is moist and well drained. Moreover, the foliage of the spiral rush is a wonderful addition to cut flower arrangements.

Where to Find Rushes

With current landscaping demands, more local nurseries and online garden distributors are offering a continually expanding variety of plant life, including ornamental grasses. Nurseries that specialise in aquatic plant life would likely have spiral rush or be able to recommend a supplier to the inquiring gardener. If you choose to purchase your plants online, using your favourite search engine will aid in locating a supplier for purchasing your spiral rush.

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About the Author

Amy Betts received a Bachelor of Arts in graphic communications from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and has been writing for 20 years. Her publications include articles for eHow and a short story, "The Calling Card," which appeared in "The First Line" magazine. She has authored several technical documents, instruction manuals and presentations on employee training, health and safety.