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Winter hardy ornamental grasses for tubs decorating terrace and balcony & easily get through the winter

Grasses are really very attractive and welcome accent in the garden. There, they transform bare walls into beautiful eye-catchers, make the garden pond more authentic or even serve as a privacy screen. But these beauties are not reserved only for the garden, because there are also numerous varieties of ornamental grasses, which can also be wonderfully maintained in pots. So you get the desired privacy screen even on the balcony or on the terrace, make the flower boxes more interesting or just enjoy potted plants of a special kind in addition to the classics. But which ones survive the cold winter months in the container without any problems? We present hardy ornamental grasses for containers that you can consider and explain how best to protect and overwinter them in winter.

To what extent are grasses designated as hardy actually protected?

Cultivating grasses in pots on the terrace or balcony

It is true that grasses that are considered hardy can easily survive the winter. However, this applies to outdoor locations and “real” soil, as this is more protected from cold and frost. In pots, on the contrary, they are much more exposed to the cold, because it affects the roots from all sides. For this reason, the term should not mislead you. Nevertheless, some winter protection is needed hardy ornamental grasses for pots.

For this purpose, the pots can be placed on plates of Styrofoam, or else on cardboard to insulate them from below. All around, in turn, can be used fleece, and also film.

Winter-hardy ornamental grasses for containers – what varieties are suitable?

Chinese reed (Miscanthus sinensis) delights with reeds in winter.

Hardy ornamental grasses for containers - Chinese reed (Miscanthus sinensis) as privacy screen

If you do not attach importance to the fact that your grasses show color even in winter, the Chinese reed is perfectly suitable . It loses its leaves during the cold season. Only the reeds remain, but they are also a beautiful sight. You can choose from a whole 20 varieties, all of which can survive the winter if you choose the right location (full sun to partial shade) and protect the plants. However, not all of them are suitable for container care or they would not survive the winter in it.

Most varieties grow up to 150 cm tall, but there are also those with a maximum height of 3 meters. Would you like it a little more extreme in a large tub? Then giant china reed with its growth height of up to 5 meters is just the thing for you!

Lampbush grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) – Compact and with beautiful flowers.

Lampbush grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) as a solitary plant or combination partner

Winter-hardy ornamental grasses for containers are also the lampbush grasses , which are so popular, among other things, because of their pretty inflorescences. There are as many as 80 varieties of lampbush grasses, but they do not grow taller than 150 cm. Perfect, therefore, even for small areas such as the balcony. It is also very practical that these grasses are also comfortable indoors and can therefore be cultivated as houseplants. So this is the perfect and easiest way to overwinter the plants. And in the process, you also get a beautiful decoration for the dreary winter months.

Planting tubs with grasses – pampas grass (Cortaderia)

Winter hardy ornamental grasses for containers - Pampas grass (Cortaderia) with beautiful flowers


Do you want your container plant on a south-facing balcony or somewhere else in full sun? Then pampas grasses are just the right varieties, because they not only love such locations, but need them to become resistant to the winter cold. Still, keep in mind that not all varieties are actually hardy, so you should ask beforehand. Furthermore, there are more compact varieties, but also those that can grow 2.5 meters high.

Fescue (Festuca) also for window boxes

Winter-hardy ornamental grasses for containers - blue fescue (Festuca) for color contrasts and boxes

Very compact and therefore also suitable as grasses for the balcony box, are the cushion-like and spherical growing fescue varieties. They score with a very good winter hardiness and interesting leaf colors, which vary depending on the variety. Should your grasses be hardy and evergreen? The fescue will fulfill this wish for you! Typically, these grasses grow to a maximum height of 50 cm, depending on the variety. Perfect hardy ornamental grasses for containers, then!

Hardy ornamental grasses for containers – sedges (Carex)

Winter hardy ornamental grasses for containers - planting sedges (Carex)


There are numerous varieties of sedges that are perfect for planting in tubs. You get really hardy grasses for tubs that retain their green coloration even in winter. Depending on the variety, they grow to a maximum of 50 cm tall, and they don’t grow too much in width either, so even larger containers can be planted perfectly. The ideal location varies from shade to full sun depending on the variety . So you can easily find the right variety for your needs.

Zebra reed ( Miscanthus sinensis zebrinus) with effective leaf coloration

Zebra reed (Miscanthus sinensis zebrinus) is very robust and easy to care for

The name suggests that the leaves have a striped appearance, which is really beautiful to look at. But this is by far not all, with which this grass variety impresses. In fact, in winter, pretty ice crystals form on these interesting leaves before the plant sheds them. It is a variety that really thrives wonderfully in containers and is robust, and with its maximum height of 160 cm, it is also relatively compact – so perfect even for the small balcony. You have a choice of different sub-varieties, some of which are less frost hardy than others. However, all of them are characterized by the striped leaves.

Other hardy ornamental grasses for containers

  • Blue ray oat (Helictotrichon sempervirens)
  • Bog Riding Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora)
  • Reed-glory grass (Phalaris arundinacea)
  • Reed-whistlegrass (Molinia arundinacea)
  • Snow-white woodrush (Luzula nivea)
  • Ciliated Pearl Grass (Melica ciliata)