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Elymus hispidus - Elymus Glauca -  Ornamental Blue Grass. Wild Rye Grass

Do not be put off by the common name of the Elymus group of ornamental grasses. The cultivated forms that are available for the garden are nor 'wild' - even though the dreaded  couch or twitch grass is a member of the same family.

Elymus hispidus is stunning blue grass, forming a mound of metallic blue foliage. It is normally evergreen in all but severe winters, but perennial, so will re-emerge if it dies down for the winter.

The foliage is the main feature of this ornamental grass with the long arching narrow leaves of blue. The flowers on long slender stems are not to be enthused over - for they are quite insignificant when compared to the overall appearance of the plant. Small straw coloured tufts of flowers held above the clump of foliage.

Elymus hispidus or glauca - Ornamental garden blue grass.This plant is often confused with Leymus arenarius. Elymus is not invasive, though it will send out a few rhizomatous runners. Leymus on the other hand, forms loosely leaved tuft by way of its rapid spreading habit.

Elymus hispidus  will grow in almost all soils, but is best suited to dry areas, though will tolerate damp if well drained soils. Full sun is the preferred position, but I have seen them grow well in dappled shade in light woodland.

Elymus hispidus (Elymus Glaucus of Gardens).

Growing in Containers -  Elymus hispidus is a superb container plant, and there will rarely be room for any other plants in the container once it is established. Use a soil/peat mix for the compost, and feed with long term slow release fertilizer in the spring.

The overall height is around 30in (75cm) with a spread of less than that - around 24in (60cm) It is totally hardy, though may die down in winter. The winter foliage is worth leaving on in that case, and then simply tidied up in the spring.

Propagating Elymus hispidus - E. glauca

The insignificant flowers I scorned earlier have a purpose of course - setting seed. this seed can be harvested and sown as soon as ripe. A seed tray in cold greenhouse is best or a coldframe.

They can also be divided in spring - just as growth starts - or maybe the odd runner will appear, and that can be cut from the parent plant and grown on.

Problems with Elymus hispidus

No pest problems noted, however, the foliage can be subject to rust. In this case, Copper Fungicide can be applied to control.

Elymus racemosa - an ornamental grass with blue foliage.

Elymus racemosa is similar in all respects, though it does tend to spread by underground runners a little.




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