2012 Theodore Klein Plant Award Winner

Feather Reed Grass, Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' is an ornamental grass that won the 2001 Perennial Plant of the Year and Kentucky’s Theodore Klein Plant Award for 2012. It is highly regarded in the U.S. and worldwide. It has become common in our landscapes because it is “neat, clean and tidy’, stands upright and blooms reasonably early for the species and holds its blooms through to winter.  When the blooms turn their tan color against the green foliage it creates a beautiful effect.  It prefers sun or part-shade exposure in a moist soil, but it has been seen growing well in a variety of soils. In shade it can be thin and slow to create an ornamental clump. ‘Karl Forester’ is a hybrid cross between C. arundinacea and C. epigejos.  It looks good in the pot in the nursery or retail yard where it will bloom and can be planted as a slowly spreading clump specimen, in a container or a mass planting.  Allan Armitage says “Plants grow tightly together and should be grouped for best effect.” To see mass plantings of the feather reed grass, Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' visit Ball Seed Company's Plant Evaluation Gardens in Chicago http://www.ballhort.com. The image was taken at Ball Seed Co..

In late winter or early spring at the UKREC we cut the 4-6 foot stems down to 6-8 inches.  If we have a use for the stems as cut stems for arrangements or decorations we have cut them as early as Thanksgiving.  If they are not cut down in winter when they are cut back in the spring new growth may be damaged.  

A sharp heavy spade can be used to divide the clumps; that in older plants are quite woody.  A small amount of slow release fertilizer is recommended.

Good news whenever considering a grass is that the seeds of Karl Forester are sterile.

Grasses tend to be especially well adapted to rain garden environments and ‘Karl Forester’ is no exception with the Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder specifically mentioning “Suggested Use: Rain Garden”.

Hoffman Nursery says -- ‘Karl Foerster’ was named in honor of the late great nurseryman, Karl Foerster (1874-1970). Mr. Foerster was responsible for introducing this grass, as well as many other acclaimed plants during his distinguished career in horticulture.

Anonymous. 2014. Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'. Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder.  Accessed, February 21, 2014 http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b810

Armitage, Allan M. 2008.  Herbaceous Perennial Plants: A Treatise on their Identification, Culture, and Garden Attributes: Third Edition.  (Stipes Publishing, 2008)

Darke, Rick.  2004.  Timber Press Pocket Guide to Ornamental Grasses.  (Timber Press, 2004)

Hoffman Nursery.  2014. Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' Feather Reed Grass. Accessed February 21 ,2014. http://hoffmannursery.com/plants/calamagrostis-x-acutiflora-karl-foerster