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Calamagrostis arundinacea Reed Grass

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


Reed grass is an ornamental grass that attains a height of 5 to 7 feet. The medium green leaves of this plant are lanceolate in shape and may reach a length of 5 to 7 feet. They also exhibit good fall and winter color. The inflorescence of this plant is a compact, spike like panicle that is 4 to 8 inches long. These inflorescences are loosely branched and have a pinkish white or reddish cast. They appear in the summer and are followed by attractive seed heads that are used in flower arrangements. This plant spreads by rhizomes which allows it to slowly increase in diameter.

Full Form - Calamagrostis arundinacea: Reed Grass
Figure 1 . Full Form - Calamagrostis arundinacea: Reed Grass. 
Credit: Edward F. Gilman 

General Infromation

Scientific name: Calamagrostis arundinacea

Pronunciation: kal-uh-muh-GRAW-stiss uh-run-din-NAYsee-uh

Common name(s): reed grass

Family: Gramineae

Plant type: herbaceous; ornamental grass

USDA hardiness zones: 5 through 9 (Figure 2)

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Credit: undefined

Planting month for zone 7: year round

Planting month for zone 8: year round

Planting month for zone 9: year round

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Uses: specimen; mass planting; container or above-ground planter; cut flowers; border; accent

Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant


Height: 5 to 7 feet

Spread: 5 to 7 feet

Plant habit: upright

Plant density: dense

Growth rate: fast

Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: most emerge from the soil, usually without a stem

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire

Leaf shape: lanceolate

Leaf venation: parallel

Leaf type and persistence: deciduous

Leaf blade length: more than 36 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: brown or tan

Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: pink

Flower characteristic: summer flowering


Fruit shape: elongated

Fruit length: less than 1/2 inch

Fruit cover: dry or hard

Fruit color: tan

Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems

Current year stem/twig color: not applicable

Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun; plant grows in the shade

Soil tolerances: extended flooding; clay; acidic; loam

Drought tolerance: moderate

Soil salt tolerances: good

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: not applicable

Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers

Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more

Invasive potential: not known to be invasive

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Reed grass is excellent for naturalized areas in freshwater bogs and swamps, around lakes and ponds, and along streams. It is suited for planting near water gardens due to its tolerance of wet soil. It is a good specimen plant but also looks great planted in mass. This grass is tolerant of salt spray making it wonderful for coastal landscapes. In seashore plantings it can provide a tall screen or windbreak and is useful for erosion control. It is an aggressive plant with the potential to become invasive.

This grass can grow in an area of the landscape receiving full sun or partial shade. Reed grass prefers wet brackish soils but will thrive in heavy clay soils with less moisture. The size of this plant depends on the moisture supply; it will grow larger with increased moisture levels. One may need to dig out excess plants when they become invasive.

The propagation of reed grass is accomplished by plant divisions.

Pests and Diseases

Usually free of pests and diseases.

Publication #FPS85

Release Date:July 13, 2022

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

Related Topics

Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is FPS85, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised July 2022. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman