Photo of Elymus virginicus

Elymus virginicus

Virginia Wild Rye

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Virginia Wild Rye is a cool season perennial bunch grass featuring silvery blue-green leaves in spring and brilliant golden brown leaves in...

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Virginia Wild Rye is a fast-growing, short-lived, cool season perennial bunch grass. It features silvery blue-green leaves in the spring and brilliant golden brown leaves and seedheads in the fall. Showy, wheat-like flower structures form in late spring-early summer, rising above the foliage, offering textural contrast in the garden setting. Dried fruit and leaves provide interest in the winter garden. Prefers moist, well-drained loamy soil in full sun, but tolerates a range of conditions including sand and clay, as well as partial shade and full shade. Provides a lovely accent to cut flower arrangements. Can be used for restoration projects, as it offers excellent erosion control and stabilization. Appropriate for low maintenance gardens, rain gardens, moist meadows and woodland edges. Caution: The dry seedheads become stiff and sharp in winter, and can cause eye injury. Use caution when planting this species in an area used by pets. Companion plants include Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata), Wild Bergomot (Monarda fistulosa), Mistflower (Eupatorium coelstinum), and Blazing Star (Liatris spicata).

Wildlife Value: Host plant for butterflies including numerous banded skippers and satyr species, as well as moths, including False Wainscot Moth. Birds forage for the seed. 

Plant Details:

Plant Type: Grass

New Jersey Native: Yes

Bloom Times: Summer, Late Summer to Fall

Bloom Colors: Green

Deer Resistance: High

Attracts Pollinators and Wildlife: Butterflies, Birds

Hardiness Zone: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b

Physiographic Region: All Regions in NJ

Soil Characteristics

Soil Type: Loam, Organic, Sandy, Clay

Soil Moisture: Dry, Moist, Wet

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic, Neutral, Slightly Alkaline

Light Needs of Plant

Optimal Light: Full Sun

Light Range: Full Sun, Partial Shade, Shade

Water Needs of Plant

Soil Moisture: Dry, Moist, Wet

Drought Tolerance: Medium

Size and Growth Rate

Height: 2 - 4 ft

Spread: 1 - 2 ft

Growth Rate: Fast