I have always liked Fakahatchee grass because it is easy to grow, looks great, and fits into every landscape. It is a pretty big plant at maturity and can grow up to five feet tall and wide. However, there is a smaller model called the Dwarf Fakahatchee grass that is only two to three feet in size which often fits better than its much larger relative. Smaller fits better in many limited space landscapes. Dwarf Fakahatchee may be the answer for your small space garden!
Dwarf Fakahatchee is a native grass known botanically as Tripsacum floridanum. This perfect, pint-sized ornamental grass is ideal for full sun areas, but will take some light shade. Soil sites for this grass are best kept on the moist side, but it can adapt to drier conditions. As such, while it is moderately drought-tolerant, it is also very tolerant of standing water making it a great candidate for a rain garden. A rain garden is a slightly depressed area in a landscape that is both seasonally dry and seasonally wet and provides a service of cleaning stormwater runoff. Plants such as Dwarf Fakahatchee are ideal for this type of setting. In addition to looking good as a mass planting or in a border, Dwarf Fakahatchee can also function to stabilize soil a bit on slopes or banks. This ornamental grass is small enough to also make a nice container planting as well.
I have grown the full-sized Fakahatchee from both seed and division before with great success – these are also the method recommended for the dwarf version. Dwarf Fakahatchee is a very easy plant to propagate and expand your supply of planting material. Otherwise, Dwarf Fakahatchee grass is commonly available at local native plant nurseries, family-run garden nurseries, and occasionally even at box store garden centers.
Any brown or winter-damaged foliage can be neatly trimmed away in the spring. Interesting, but inconspicuous, Dwarf Fakahatchee flower spikes (inflorescence) appear in the spring growing slightly above the deep green foliage. This native perennial is a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ approved plant and is one of our best ornamental grasses! For more information on ornamental grasses suitable for our area, or to ask a question, please visit https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteMGLifeline/ . You can also call the Master Gardener Volunteer Helpdesk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gilman, E. F. (1999) Tripsacum floridana. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions (2021) – Fakahatchee Grass. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions (2021) – Rain Gardens. The University of Florida Extension Service, IFAS.
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design (2010) The University of Florida Extension Services.