Fastest & Tallest Growing Ornamental Grasses

Updated February 21, 2017

For a screen between your garden and an unwanted view, tall ornamental grasses offer privacy, ease of care and quick growth. Some are evergreen, so they'll accent your garden in winter, too. Grasses also add sound and movement to a garden as they are brushed by breezes and their leaves swish together. They are a great way to lend a tropical feel to a temperate garden.


A common choice for screening, bamboo is a fast-growing grass that is evergreen in the climates where it thrives. It reaches its full height in only a year or two. Running bamboo needs to be grown in large, deep containers made of concrete, steel or weatherproof ceramic. But clumping bamboos enlarge outward, without running roots, so can be planted in the ground. Some clumping varieties, such as Borinda boliana, grow to 24 feet. Clumping bamboo is hardy to -12.2 degrees Celsius.

Giant Reed Grass

The tallest ornamental grass commonly used in landscaping, giant reed grass (Arundo donax), comes in green or green-and-white striped varieties. It resembles a corn plant and reaches 20 feet tall with stems 1 inch in diameter. In the fall, it produces plumes of reddish-brown that age to parchment. It prefers full sun but will tolerate part sun; it grows most quickly with regular water and spreads slowly by rhizomes. Arundo donax is hardy to minus -9.44 degrees C.

Plume Grass

Plume grass, or ravenna grass (Erianthus ravennae), is sometimes called hardy pampas grass, because it resembles pampas grass (Cortaderia sellioana), forming a wide clump of grey-green foliage about 5 feet tall, topped by fluffy, buff-coloured plumes on long, thin stems. The plumes reach 6 feet above the foliage. Pampas grass is hardy only to 15 degrees and is considered invasive in some states. Plume grass is hardy to minus -12.2 degrees C. Plant it in full sun and well-drained soil. Like pampas grass, it self-seeds.

Giant Silver Grass

Miscanthus giganteus, also sometimes listed as M. floridulus, reaches 12 to 15 feet by its second year. It grows in a vase shape, forms a large clump about 6 feet wide and is hardy to minus -3.89 degrees C. Its leaves are green, with a silver midrib, and it blooms in fall with an airy wine-coloured plume. While not truly evergreen, its stems remain upright in the garden through the winter. It enjoys full sun and regular water.

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About the Author

Since 1981 Janet Bayers has written on travel, real estate trends and gardening for "The Oregonian" newspaper in Portland. Her work also has appeared in “Better Homes & Gardens,” “Traditional Home,” “Outdoor Living” and other shelter magazines. She holds a Master of Arts in linguistics from Michigan State University.