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More Information About Phalaris

Phalaris is a genus of 18 species of grasses that are distributed worldwide. One species in particular, Phalaris arundinacea, has wide ranging talents and is commonly used as an ornamental grass, as animal forage, as a bio-filter for wastewater management, as a source of fiber in the paper industry and as a biofuel crop. What a show-off! Another species, Phalaris canariensis lives on the Canary Islands and is, strangely enough, used to produce bird seed. Does that fall under the Doctrine of Signatures?

Phalaris is known for being extraordinarily tough, drought-tolerant and easy to grow in sun or shade. This ornamental grass will grow on tough sites where nothing else seems to take hold. The plants spread via seed and rhizomes to fill in an area fairly quickly, which makes it an excellent groundcover, massing plant, or container plant. It is able to live in a wide variety of habits from pond edges and bogs to xeric sites and rock gardens and everything between.

Because of this ecological flexibility, selections of Phalaris can be invasive in fertile locations. Check with your local extension service to see if you are in one of these areas. Phalaris species contain gramine, which is toxic to grazing animals, so it should not be grown near animal pastures. Some species also contain DMT, a hallucinogen, and so it should not be grown near hippies.

We particularly like the variegated Phalaris selections like 'Freesy' with its tinge of pink or 'Picta' with its cream edged leaves. In fall, the ribbon-like leaves turn tan and you can enjoy the dried foliage all winter long. Try pairing Phalaris with pink or purple plants such as setcreasea, canna, colocasia, eupatorium, salvia or hibiscus. When you are ready to buy Phalaris for your garden, check out our online list of Phalaris for sale.