Acorus are grown primarily for their bright, cheery evergreen foliage that is clumping and grass-like in character.
The plant's flower spikes are largely inconspicuous on Acorus gramineus, while they are larger on Acorus calamus.
The leaves of Acorus gramineus are in flattened fans like those of irises, crowded along short rhizomes, while the leaves of Acorus calamus are taller. Both leaves and rhizomes of both species are sweet-scented and the stout, aromatic rhizomes of Acorus calamus contain compounds sometimes used in herbal medicines or perfume.
Acorus calamus is a perennial associated with wetlands throughout Eurasia and eastern North America with green iris like leaves to 5 feet long and a narrow elliptical green spadix (a fleshy spike bearing small flowers) to 4 inches long.
This species spreads slowly by underground rhizomes and is evergreen throughout most of its range. Acorus calamus 'Variegatus' has cream and yellow variegated leaves.
Acorus calamus is a showy and reliable water plant suitable for water gardens in the Pacific Northwest. Acorus calamus 'Argenteostriatus' is a variegated variety of the native that provides a bright spot of color and structure to the water garden.
Acorus gramineus is a great addition to mixed containers for sun or shade. It adds a wonderful pop of color and stays compact. In addition, because it is evergreen, it can be used in containers for all seasons and is especially fun in winter when options for grasses are more limited. Acorus gramineus also adds color and consistency to the front of mixed plantings or simple modern plantings where it looks especially good planted en masse. Also, Acorus gramineus can be a fantastic ground cover between pavers in a location where adequate moisture is assured.
Native to Japan, this species has green, soft curved leaves up to 18 inches long. The flower spikes are about 3 inches long and emerge in spring and summer. Clumps can be up to 2 feet wide and are slow to grow. Varieties include the following:
Chartreuse to golden colored foliage and grows between 12 to 14 inches tall.
Bright yellow foliage with a fine texture and grows to 4 inches tall.
Gold and green variegation and grows from 10-12 inches tall.
White and green variegation and grows from 8-12 inches tall.
Olive-green foliage with a light yellow edge and grows up to 12 inches tall.
Yellow-green foliage and compact in nature.
Grasses are a great choice to add structure, color and movement to the garden.
Work them into any garden style as focal points or accents and you'll be delighted with their graceful ease.