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
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
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
Partner with: Veronicastrum, Aster, Rudbeckia,
tall Sedums, Eupatorium,
Boltonia, Heliopsis 'Summer Sun'
Season of interest: June to winter
When to plant or divide: early to late spring and
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)
Compare Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' to our other
grasses in this handy