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July 15th, 2020

Fakahatchee grass: Native ornamental grass

by R.S. Walsh

Fakahatchee Grass (Tripsacum dactyloides) also known as Gama Grass, is a native ornamental grass found in the southeastern United States. This grass has bright green narrow leaves or blades that have a serrated edge. They grow in nicely rounded clumps and typically get 5-6 feet in height in our area. There is also a dwarf fakahatchee grass (Tripsacum floridanum) which has all attributes in a smaller package, reaching heights of around three feet. These ornamental grasses have become an increasingly popular choice in native landscapes and can be used in a variety of situations.

This grass is evergreen in our sub-tropical area and prefers more sun than shade, and likes fertile soil. You will find fakahatchee grass growing along pond banks, swamps and hammock areas and other wet sites throughout Florida. In the home landscape, when planted appropriately it can soften some of the harsh areas beneath tall palms, makes a good background for smaller shrubs and even looks good in a pot. This native grass is salt tolerant as well, making it a good choice for our island environment. Because of its dense, clumping growth pattern, it can also provide coverage for small wildlife.

Plant an ornamental grass that you don’t have to mow. They are easy to grow and maintain and are a delight to watch as they sway gently in the tropical breeze.

This plant column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, a Sanibel garden center located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel, Florida.

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