Grass fit for a Golden Gopher: University of Minnesota’s newest ornamental grass adds a golden hue to Northern landscapes

September 27, 2021

Patent-pending Golden Sunset™ plants now available at select retailers 

Golden Sunset ornamental grass.

Minnesota gardeners and landscapers can now plant a striking new variety of ornamental grass that was developed close to home. The University of Minnesota has been developing the Golden Sunset™ variety since 2005, with trials taking place across the Midwest.  

Selected for its upright stature, clean olive-green foliage and numerous early yellow and golden-bronze flowers, Golden Sunset™ is one of four dominant native grasses to the tallgrass prairie of the Central United States. Golden Sunset™ originated from South Dakota and has proven winter hardy as far north as USDA Hardiness Zone 3.

Golden Sunset™ flowers first emerge in mid-August and remain attractive through the winter. Unlike other native grasses to the region, Golden Sunset™ remains upright and does not lodge or fall over. Plants grow to 4-6 feet tall at maturity and can reach 36 inches wide, with hundreds of flowering stems. 

“This grass will be a good addition to landscapes throughout the U.S., but especially in northern climates,” said Mary Meyer, emeritus professor and extension horticulturist with the University of Minnesota’s Department of Horticulture Science, part of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. “While most plants from this species have blue-green foliage, Golden Sunset™ foliage is olive green with eye-catching flowers that range from yellow to golden-bronze.”  

The patent-pending grass  plants are now available at select retailers, including Bachman’s locations around the Twin Cities metro, and should be at other locations this fall or next spring. 

Golden Sunset™ is also part of the Ornamental Grass Collection at the University of Minnesota's Landscape Arboretum. With more than 200 different ornamental and native grasses, it is one of the largest collections in the U.S. Learn more about the UMN’s research on ornamental grasses and their many benefits. 

About the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
The University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) brings science-driven innovators together to discover hands-on solutions to global challenges. With ten research and outreach centers across Minnesota, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the Bell Museum of Natural History, CFANS offer unparalleled experiential learning opportunities for students and the community.