What Happened To My Grasses?

What Happened To My Grasses?

Ornamental grasses (some of our customers call them “beach grasses”) took a hit this past winter. We’ll never know whether it was the rollercoaster temperatures early in the winter or the very wet conditions we had in March, but many people found that their grasses were dead this spring. Some clumps have a few, feeble blades coming up out of the largely dead remains; frankly, it’s unlikely that such plants will be beautiful again unless they are dug out and all the dead stems removed so that the living blades can develop. For most homeowners with dead or pathetic plants it is time to replace them with new grasses.

As long as you’re replacing them, consider if you want the same plant or a variety that’s different or better for the location. The  variegated Miscanthus pictured below, for example is bright but these plants grow quite wide and need lots of space. In narrow places there are more upright grasses such as Calamagrostis that might fit better. There are also grasses that stay low.

Fertilize your ornamental grasses with Plant-tone every spring.

There are many types of grasses available. Her are just a few in Country Garden’s  grasses section along the fence. 

Some people enjoy putting grasses in pots on the edge of their patio or porch. These should be brought into an unheated garage in November if you want to keep them from year to year. Many decide to just grow them as annuals and replace every summer so that no storage is required.

It is my opinion that grasses are more likely to make it though the winter if they aren’t cut back until March or early April. I have no hard data on this, however, so do what makes sense to you in terms of trimming them back. Whether you cut them down in fall or spring, however, don’t leave too much dead stem in the clump. Cut them down to about 12″ tall.

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