species cross (S. autumnalis x S. caerulea)
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Sesleria x ‘Greenlee Hybrid’ is a low mounding cool season perennial grass. Foliage is evergreen with an attractive blue-green hue. Silvery purple tinged spikey flowers rise above the leaves and mature into purplish brown seed heads. This adaptive grass prospers in sunny sites with a wide variety of soils.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Sesleria x ‘Greenlee Hybrid’ is a chance seedling that was discovered in John Greenlee’s Pomona, California nursery and later introduced into the nursery trade.
The cultivar is assumed to be a hybrid between Sesleria autumnalis and Sesleria caerulea. Plants have blue-green foliage similar to that of S. caerulea. Height is intermediate between the two species and is taller than S. caerulea and shorter than S. autumnalis. The inflorescence rises well above the foliage like that of S. autumnalis.
The ‘Greenlee Hybrid’ is known for its deep blue-green evergreen foliage, compact mounding habit and elongated rose-purple flower spikes.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 5-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Sesleria x ‘Greenlee Hybrid’ forms upright symmetrical tufted mounds of evergreen foliage.
Blades are narrow, v-shaped and about 1/4” wide and 8-12” long. Foliage is a soothing blue green.
Silvery spiky inflorescences rise above the foliage in spring or early summer. The elongated spikes are tinged with purple. Purplish brown seed heads follow and usually persist through the winter.
Blooming plants are 8-12” tall with an equal spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Sesleria x ‘Greenlee Hybrid’ prospers in sunny or lightly shaded sites with average or dry well drained soil and consistent moisture.
Plants tolerate a wide range of conditions - dry shade, excess salinity, drought, alkaline pH and many different soil types. This species tolerates harsh urban environments and the difficult conditions associated with Black Walnut trees.
This is a cool season grass that does much of its growing during chilly weather. Mulch should be applied to protect roots from cold and help conserve water in summer.
Plants need to be groomed or cut to the ground in late winter to remove tattered foliage and make way for new leaves.
This grass is pest resistant and fairly unpalatable to deer and other herbivores. It is, however, intolerant of high summer heat and humidity.
It is reported that this grass rarely reseeds in the garden.
LANDSCAPE USES: This diminutive grass serves as a handsome Groundcover that brightens sunny Meadows. The ‘Greenlee Hybrid’ is sometimes used as an Accent, Edging or Mass Planting. Plants provide Winter Interest and Erosion Control to Deer Resistant Plantings, Low Maintenance Gardens, Perennial Borders or Rock Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Sesleria x ‘Greenlee Hybrid’ with Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’, Chasmanthium latifolium, Deschampsia caespitosa, Echinacea purpurea, Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’, Penstemon calycosus or Sporobolus heterolepis.
The parent species, Sesleria autumnalis and Sesleria caerulea have similar habit and cultural needs and can be substituted if needed.
TRIVIA: The generic name is in honor of Leonardo Selser, 18th century Italian botanist.
The cultivar was named for John Greenlee, a leading proponent of the American Meadow Movement. Greenlee has designed meadow gardens throughout the United States and is the founder of Greenlee Nursery, the oldest specialty grass nursery on the West Coast.