Of about 250 species native to many temperate and tropical regions of the world, only a few are cultivated in gardens. These tough, carefree perennials form graceful clumps of fine-textured foliage. Airy floral plumes look like clouds floating above the leaves. Use love grasses as textural accents in containers or as bank or ground covers. They are drought tolerant and need excellent drainage; they thrive in sandy soils. Reseed readily and can be invasive. Not browsed by deer.
E. curvula. WEEPING LOVE GRASS. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. From southern Africa and India. Billowing mass of slender, dark green, hairlike leaves reaches 3 ft. tall and wide. Purple-black flower plumes appear in summer, increasing plant height to 4 ft. Foliage turns bronzy red after frost. Evergreen in Florida. Excellent massed; controls erosion.
E. elliottii. ELLIOTT'S LOVE GRASS. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. From Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and southeastern U.S. Narrow, powder-blue leaves form a clump 3 ft. high and wide. Airy, tan flower plumes are held above the leaves in spring and persist into fall. Makes a dramatic specimen plant. 'Wind Dancer' features white blooms in summer.
E. spectabilis. PURPLE LOVE GRASS. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native from Maine to Minnesota, south to Florida, Arizona, and Mexico. Light green, narrow leaves form a compact clump to almost 1 ft. tall and wide. In late summer, plants are covered by wispy clouds of rosy purple blooms that increase the clump's height to 2 ft. Leaves reddish in fall, when flowers have faded to soft brown. Combines well with gray-leafed plants.
E. trichodes. SAND LOVE GRASS. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native from Illinois to Colorado and Texas. Narrow, bright green leaves grow in an upright clump to 12 ft. tall and wide; they turn buff to russet in fall. Delicate bronze to purplish blooms double the plant's height in late summer and last through winter.