The name for the genus honors the 18th-century Italian physician and botanist, Leonardo Selser. And while the epithet and common name both refer to the plant’s fall-flowering time, here in California flowering occurs in the spring. This grass is adaptable and can take a wide range of conditions from dry to semi-wet and shade to sun, with some protection in hotter inland locations.
Sesleria autumnalis is a beautiful evergreen meadow grass that forms tidy pale green clumps from one to two feet high and wide with pale green leaf blades that arch gracefully. In cooler climates it develops a lovely mellow yellow tint in the fall. In early to mid-spring, narrow green flower spikes with white anthers emerge from 18-inch-tall stems, The flower spikes fade to a pleasant tan and then gray as summer and fall marches on but still remain attractive.
Two types of sesleria are worth knowing about: Sesleria autumnalis (autumn moor grass) and Sesleria caerulea (blue moor grass). Both can be used as successful non-traditional ground covers and can hold their own as edging plants or mixed into borders. Also both are bunching and grow in clumps with little spread.
S. caerulea is an evergreen clumping grass which grows to to 8 inches tall by 1 foot wide with thin, upright bicolored leaves (the upper side of the leaf is a rich green and the underside a bluish-white, giving the plant a definite blue cast). Spikes of blackish flowers accented with yellow anthers appear in spring., Plant in full sun to part shade and irrigate regularly.
Keep It Alive
For more growing tips, see Moor Grass: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design in our curated design guides to Grasses 101. For more landscaping ideas for our favorite perennial grasses, see: