Calamagrostis X 'Karl Foerster' clumps around a fountain (Lohr)

Calamagrostis ×acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'
Feather reed grass

  • Water use: Moderate.
  • Light: Full sun for strong flower stalks.
  • Size: Including flower spikes, plants are 4 to 5 feet tall. Clumps get a few inches wider each year; young plants may be 8 inches wide, older clumps may be 3 feet or more wide.
  • Plant habit: Deciduous, upright, clump-forming grass. Very vertical in appearance.
  • Leaves: Green, arching leaves are 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. They begin growing in very early spring. Leaves turn tan in the fall and winter.
Calamagrostis X 'Karl Foerster' in early spring (Lohr)Calamagrostis X 'Karl Foerster' in late spring (Lohr)Calamagrostis X 'Karl Foerster' in early summer (Lohr)
  • Season of bloom: Early summer. Flowers rise above the leaves and are brownish-purple. Flowers fade to golden yellow. Seed heads persist and are attractive from summer through the next spring.
  • Culture: This cool-season grass begins growing in very early spring and does not go dormant in the summer if grown with moderate water. Will grow in heavy soils.
Calamagrostis X 'Karl Foerster' in late summer (Lohr)Calamagrostis X 'Karl Foerster' in late fall (Lohr)
  • Maintenance: Old flowers and leaves are typically removed in late winter or early spring, just as new growth is evident. If the seed stalks are left on the plant in the winter, they will provide interesting winter appearance. Snow loads will cause the seed stalks to bend to the ground, but most will pop back upright when the snow melts. Flowers are sterile, so the plant does not reseed.
  • Pests/Diseases: Insect- and disease-free.
  • Other: Attractive vertical form provides a nice contrast to other perennials. This plant is great for screening. Children enjoy hiding behind it and peering through its leaves.  The Perennial Plant Association selected it as the 2001 Perennial Plant of the Year.
Additional images of Calamagrostis (Lohr)

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Water-conserving plant list
Page creators:
Virginia I. Lohr and Caroline H. Pearson-Mims
Dept. of Hort & LA, Washington St. Univ.
Page updated March 21, 2007