Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis X Acutiflora ‘Overdam’)

Plant: Table of Contents

Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’): A Comprehensive Guide

As a plant scientist with a passion for ornamental grasses, I am excited to share with you the wonders of feather reed grass, specifically the Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ variety. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the culture, uses, maintenance, and various aspects of cultivating this stunning ornamental grass. Whether you’re a gardening enthusiast or a professional landscaper, this guide will provide you with valuable insights into harnessing the beauty and versatility of feather reed grass in your outdoor spaces.

What is Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’)?

Feather reed grass, scientifically known as Calamagrostis x acutiflora, is a cool-season, clump-forming grass that belongs to the Poaceae family. The ‘Overdam’ cultivar is particularly prized for its striking variegated foliage, adding a touch of elegance to landscapes with its creamy-white margins on green leaves. As an ornamental grass, it has gained popularity for its graceful, upright growth habit and its ability to thrive in a variety of growing conditions.

Key Takeaways

Before delving into the specifics of feather reed grass cultivation, let’s briefly outline key takeaways for the ‘Overdam’ variety:

  • Feather Reed Grass Cultivar: Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’
  • Characteristics: Variegated foliage with creamy-white margins on green leaves
  • Culture: Moist, well-draining soil, full to partial sunlight
  • Uses: Ornamental landscaping, borders, erosion control, container gardening
  • Maintenance: Low-maintenance, minimal pruning, moderate water requirements
  • Propagation: Division in spring, seeds may also be collected and sown
  • Common Pests: Generally resistant, occasional aphid or fungal issues
  • Common Diseases: Rare but may be susceptible to rust or leaf spots

In the sections that follow, we will delve into each of these aspects in detail, providing you with comprehensive insights into the cultivation, care, and utilization of Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ in various settings.


Understanding the ideal growing conditions for feather reed grass is crucial for ensuring its vigor and visual appeal. By providing the right environment, you can promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage. Let’s explore the cultural requirements for Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ in terms of water, sunlight, soil, and fertilizer.


Feather reed grass, including the ‘Overdam’ variety, thrives in soil that is consistently moist but well-draining. While it displays good tolerance to a range of soil conditions, it does not tolerate waterlogged or extremely dry soil. When establishing this grass in your garden, ensure that it receives regular watering, especially during periods of drought or extreme heat. An inch of water per week is generally sufficient, but adjustments may be needed based on the climate and soil drainage.


In terms of sunlight requirements, feather reed grass thrives in full to partial sunlight. It appreciates at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, making it an excellent choice for sunny garden beds or open landscapes. While it can tolerate partial shade, providing ample sunlight promotes robust growth and enhances the variegated foliage of the ‘Overdam’ cultivar.


Feather reed grass prefers moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It adapts well to various soil types, including loamy, sandy, and clay soils, as long as they offer good drainage. Before planting ‘Overdam’, amend the soil with organic compost to enhance its moisture-retaining capacity and overall fertility. Additionally, maintaining a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH (6.0-7.5) is beneficial for optimal growth.


Feather reed grass is not particularly heavy feeder, and in most cases, it can thrive without regular fertilization. However, applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring can provide an extra boost to its growth and vigor. Choose a fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 or similar, and apply it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid excessive fertilization, as it can lead to lush, weak growth that is more susceptible to lodging and diseases.


The versatility of feather reed grass, particularly the ‘Overdam’ variety, makes it an exceptional choice for various landscaping and gardening applications. From ornamental borders to container gardening, its graceful form and elegant variegated foliage lend themselves well to a range of uses, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces. Let’s explore some of the primary uses of Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’.

  1. Ornamental Landscaping: As a prominent feature in garden beds or mixed borders, ‘Overdam’ offers a captivating display throughout the growing season. Its variegated foliage adds a touch of sophistication to landscapes, complementing flowering perennials and shrubs with its striking visual appeal.

  2. Borders and Edging: Feather reed grass is well-suited for defining borders and edging pathways, thanks to its erect growth habit and attractive foliage. Whether used as a standalone border or in combination with other ornamental plants, its presence lends a sense of structure and elegance to garden spaces.

  3. Erosion Control: The dense, fibrous root system of ‘Overdam’ makes it an effective choice for erosion control on slopes and embankments. By stabilizing the soil with its roots and reducing runoff, it contributes to the preservation of landscape integrity and prevents soil erosion.

  4. Container Gardening: Due to its moderate size and upright growth, ‘Overdam’ can be cultivated in containers or large pots, adding vertical interest and texture to patio areas, balconies, or urban gardens. When potted, it serves as a graceful accent plant, requiring minimal maintenance and care.

  5. Wildlife Gardens: The dense foliage and upright stems of feather reed grass provide valuable cover and nesting sites for small wildlife, including birds and beneficial insects. As a part of wildlife-friendly landscapes, ‘Overdam’ contributes to creating habitats that support biodiversity and ecological balance.


Feather reed grass, including the ‘Overdam’ cultivar, is renowned for its low-maintenance nature, requiring minimal intervention to thrive and flourish. From pruning to propagation, understanding the essential maintenance practices will equip you with the knowledge to ensure the longevity and vitality of this ornamental grass in your outdoor spaces.


Pruning feather reed grass, particularly the ‘Overdam’ variety, is a straightforward process that primarily involves tidying up the plant and rejuvenating its growth. Here are the key points to consider when pruning ‘Overdam’ feather reed grass:

  • Spring Clean-Up: In early spring, remove any dead or damaged foliage from the previous season to make way for new growth. Use sharp, sterile pruners to cut back the old foliage, allowing the emerging shoots to take center stage.

  • Seasonal Trimming: While ‘Overdam’ maintains its shape and form throughout the growing season, occasional trimming can be performed to tidy up the plant. Remove any discolored or unsightly foliage as needed, being mindful not to cut back excessively, especially in the center of the clump.

  • Late Winter Maintenance: In late winter or early spring, before the onset of new growth, consider combing out any dead foliage or debris that has accumulated in the crown of the plant. This allows for better air circulation and promotes healthy regrowth.

  • Division: Every few years, consider dividing established clumps of ‘Overdam’ to rejuvenate the plant and prevent congestion. Using a sharp spade, carefully lift and divide the clump into smaller sections, ensuring that each division has sufficient root mass and viable shoots.


Propagating Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ can be accomplished through division or by collecting and sowing its seeds. Here’s a basic overview of these propagation methods:

  • Division: In early spring, when new growth begins to emerge, carefully divide mature clumps of ‘Overdam’ using a sharp spade. Ensure that each division has adequate roots and viable shoots, then replant them at the desired locations at the same soil level as their previous planting depth.

  • Seed Collection and Sowing: In late summer to early fall, collect mature seeds from ‘Overdam’ flower heads, which form in attractive, feathery plumes. Sow the seeds in prepared seed trays or directly in the ground, covering them lightly with soil and keeping them consistently moist until germination occurs.

By incorporating proper maintenance practices, you can cultivate healthy, resilient specimens of ‘Overdam’ feather reed grass, fostering their aesthetic and functional contributions to your outdoor spaces.

Container Popularity

The ‘Overdam’ variety of feather reed grass is well-suited for container gardening, delighting gardeners with its compact size and architectural appeal. When grown in containers, it offers a versatile solution for adding vertical interest and ornamental value to various settings, including urban gardens, patios, and rooftop terraces. The following points highlight the popularity and advantages of cultivating ‘Overdam’ in containers:

  • Space-Efficient Landscaping: In limited garden spaces or urban environments, container gardening allows for the integration of ornamental grasses like ‘Overdam’ without requiring extensive planting areas. Its upright growth habit and compact size make it an ideal choice for container plantings.

  • Versatile Ornamental Accent: Planted as a standalone specimen or combined with complementary plants, ‘Overdam’ in containers serves as a striking, focal point, adding texture and visual interest to outdoor areas. Its variegated foliage provides a year-round display, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of patios, balconies, and urban landscapes.

  • Low-Maintenance Requirements: Container-grown ‘Overdam’ is relatively low-maintenance, requiring regular watering and occasional fertilization to sustain its vigor. Additionally, it can be easily moved or rearranged to suit changing design preferences, offering flexibility in landscaping compositions.

  • Seasonal Variety: Container plantings of ‘Overdam’ can be augmented with seasonal companion plants to create dynamic displays throughout the year. By incorporating flowering annuals or foliage plants, you can enhance the visual impact of container arrangements while maintaining the elegant presence of feather reed grass.

Container-grown ‘Overdam’ feather reed grass presents an exciting opportunity to harness its beauty and adaptability in a variety of garden settings, showcasing its ornamental allure in confined spaces and urban environments.

Common Diseases

While feather reed grass, including the ‘Overdam’ variety, is generally resistant to diseases, it may occasionally encounter issues that can impact its vigor and aesthetics. Being aware of common diseases and their potential symptoms will enable you to take proactive measures to protect your ‘Overdam’ plants from detrimental effects. Here are some common diseases that may affect Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’:

  1. Rust: In some instances, feather reed grass may be susceptible to rust, a fungal disease that manifests as orange or brown pustules on the foliage. To minimize the risk of rust, ensure good air circulation around ‘Overdam’ plants and avoid overhead watering, as damp conditions favor the development and spread of rust spores.

  2. Leaf Spots: Leaf spot diseases, caused by various fungal pathogens, can lead to the formation of discolored spots or lesions on the foliage of ‘Overdam’. To mitigate leaf spot occurrences, maintain adequate spacing between plants, and avoid overhead watering to reduce moisture on the foliage.

Common Pests

In addition to diseases, feather reed grass, including the ‘Overdam’ cultivar, may encounter certain pests that have the potential to impact its growth and appearance. While these pests are generally not pervasive, being vigilant and able to identify their symptoms is essential for implementing targeted pest management strategies. Here are some common pests that may affect Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’:

  1. Aphids: Occasionally, ‘Overdam’ feather reed grass may attract aphids, small sap-sucking insects that can cluster on the foliage and stems. To control aphids, consider employing natural predators, such as ladybugs, or using a strong jet of water to dislodge them from the plants.

  2. Fungal Issues: Certain fungal pathogens, such as powdery mildew, can affect feather reed grass under conditions of high humidity and poor air circulation. By ensuring proper spacing, adequate sunlight, and controlling excess moisture, you can minimize the risk of fungal problems in ‘Overdam’ grasses.

Botanist’s Tips

Drawing from our exploration of the culture, uses, maintenance, diseases, and pests associated with Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’, let’s recap with some invaluable botanist’s tips for cultivating and enjoying this charming ornamental grass:

  1. Optimal Growing Conditions: When establishing ‘Overdam’ feather reed grass, strive to provide consistently moist but well-draining soil, ample sunlight, and a balanced approach to fertilization. These ideal growing conditions enhance its resilience and visual appeal.

  2. Careful Pruning Approach: During the annual pruning of ‘Overdam’, exercise caution not to excessively remove live foliage, as this can compromise the plant’s vigor and regrowth. Focus on removing dead or discolored material to maintain its attractive form.

  3. Division for Renewal: Periodic division of mature clumps of ‘Overdam’ promotes the rejuvenation of the plant, preventing overcrowding and enhancing its overall performance. This division process can be conducted in early spring for optimal results.

  4. Vigilance Against Pests and Diseases: Regular monitoring of ‘Overdam’ feather reed grass for the presence of pests and diseases allows for early intervention and control measures. By promptly addressing any issues, you can preserve the health and beauty of the plants.

  5. Versatile Landscape Applications: Harness the versatility of feather reed grass by integrating ‘Overdam’ into various landscape settings, such as borders, containers, erosion control, and wildlife gardens. Its adaptability makes it an excellent choice for enhancing outdoor spaces.

Fun Facts

To further appreciate the allure of feather reed grass, here are some fascinating fun facts about Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’:

  • The variegated foliage of ‘Overdam’ adds year-round visual interest, transitioning from creamy-white margins in spring to autumnal hues, enhancing the appeal of garden landscapes.

  • It has been recognized for its architectural value, often employed in contemporary landscape designs to introduce vertical accents and textural diversity.

  • ‘Overdam’ feather reed grass is known for its graceful, swaying movement in the breeze, adding a sense of dynamic elegance to garden compositions.

  • Its adaptability to a range of soil types and growing conditions makes it an excellent choice for both novice and experienced gardeners seeking a resilient ornamental grass.

  • ‘Overdam’ is appreciated not only for its ornamental value but also for its ecological contributions, providing habitat and cover for wildlife in garden settings.

Links to External Resources

To expand your knowledge and explore additional resources on feather reed grass and ornamental landscaping, consider the following reputable sources:

  1. Royal Horticultural Society (RHS): The RHS offers comprehensive guidance on ornamental grasses, including feather reed grass varieties and their cultivation in garden settings.
  2. RHS on Ornamental Grasses

  3. University Extension Resources: Many university extensions provide detailed information on the cultivation and maintenance of ornamental grasses, complemented by research-backed insights.

  4. Botanical Gardens and Public Gardens: Visiting botanical gardens and public gardens with notable ornamental grass collections can inspire your landscaping endeavors and offer valuable insights into their uses and applications.

  5. Horticultural Publications: Books, magazines, and online publications dedicated to ornamental grasses and landscaping often delve into specific varieties, including feather reed grass, and offer horticulturally sound advice.

  6. Locally Established Landscapers and Garden Centers: Engage with local landscaping professionals and garden centers to gather practical advice and recommendations for successfully incorporating feather reed grass, such as ‘Overdam’, into your landscape designs.

By consulting these resources, you can access a wealth of information and expertise to further your understanding of feather reed grass and its role in ornamental gardening and landscaping.

In conclusion, Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’ stands as a captivating ornamental grass with its variegated foliage, graceful form, and versatile uses in landscaping. By embracing its unique features and understanding its cultivation requirements, you can integrate the beauty of ‘Overdam’ into your outdoor spaces, creating visually stunning, low-maintenance garden compositions that endure throughout the seasons.

As a plant scientist and advocate for ornamental grasses, I hope you found this comprehensive guide to feather reed grass, specifically the ‘Overdam’ variety, informative and inspiring for your gardening endeavors. Embrace the elegance and resilience of this stunning ornamental grass, and explore the countless possibilities it offers for enriching your garden landscapes.

With your newfound knowledge, embark on a journey of cultivating ‘Overdam’ feather reed grass to create captivating, sustainable, and biodiverse outdoor spaces that captivate the senses and nurture the soul.

Happy gardening!

Dr. [Your Name], Plant Scientist

Picture of Peter Taylors

Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.