- Plant Finder
- Tips For Care Of Fountain Grass
- Types of Fountain Grass
- Growing Fountain Grass
- Transplanting Fountain Grass
- Pennisetum alopecuroides ( Little Bunny Fountain Grass )
- Plant Care
- Plant Profile
- Tips and Timing for Cutting Back Ornamental Grass
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass fruit
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass fruit
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass flowers
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass flowers
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Height: 28 inches
Spread: 24 inches
Hardiness Zone: 5a
A fine textured dwarf fountain grass suitable for smaller areas; bright green foliage changes to a golden tan in fall; blooms are large bottle brush like plumes of white that persist until winter; beautiful as an accent or massed in borders or rock garden
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass has masses of beautiful plumes of white flowers rising above the foliage in mid summer, which are most effective when planted in groupings. Its grassy leaves are green in colour. As an added bonus, the foliage turns a gorgeous coppery-bronze in the fall. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass is an herbaceous perennial grass with a shapely form and gracefully arching stems. It brings an extremely fine and delicate texture to the garden composition and should be used to full effect.
This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. Deer don’t particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass is recommended for the following landscape applications;
- Mass Planting
- Rock/Alpine Gardens
- General Garden Use
- Container Planting
Planting & Growing
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass will grow to be about 24 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 24 inches. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.
This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions, but will not tolerate any standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America.
Hameln Dwarf Fountain Grass is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. It can be used either as ‘filler’ or as a ‘thriller’ in the ‘spiller-thriller-filler’ container combination, depending on the height and form of the other plants used in the container planting. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.
Tips For Care Of Fountain Grass
Fountain grass (Pennisetum) is a mound-forming ornamental grass and a garden favorite, as the care of fountain grass is easy. The cascading leaves on this plant have a fountain-like appearance. Clump-forming grasses grow in mounds or clumps, making them ideal for many areas without becoming invasive. It can be used alone as a specimen plant or in a border alongside other perennials.
Fountain grass is an attractive perennial grass with densely clumped growth. Blooming of its foxtail-looking flowers generally takes place from late summer through the fall. The small flowers of fountain grass are tan, pink or purple. During fall and throughout winter, this plant will also reward gardeners with spectacular foliage displays.
Types of Fountain Grass
There are different types of fountain grass to choose, ranging in size from 12 inches to 3 feet. One of the most common varieties is dwarf fountain grass Hameln (P. alopecuroides ‘Hameln’). Its light tan blooms turn pinkish brown in fall. This fountain grass blooms earlier
than the others, making it a great choice for gardens with shorter growing seasons.
Purple fountain grass (P. setaceum) has both purple foliage and blooms. Used for its reddish foliage and showy flowers is red fountain grass (P. setaceum ‘Rubrum’), which grows about 3 to 4 feet tall. Other types of fountain grass cultivars include ‘Cassian,’ ‘Little Bunny’, ‘Little Honey’, and ‘Moudry’.
Growing Fountain Grass
Growing fountain grass is easy. As with most ornamental grasses, fountain grass is extremely adaptable. Care of fountain grass is easy as well. It’s sometimes helpful to cut back the foliage in the spring prior to growth.
Although not specifically a requirement for fountain grass, fertilizer can be applied as growth resumes in the spring. Established plants do not need regular watering, except during periods of drought.
Fountain grass does well in nearly any type of soil; however, for greater results, fountain grass should be planted in fertile, well-drained soil. Fountain grass enjoys full sun but tolerates some light shade. Look for areas receiving full sun, as these plants prefer warm conditions. Warm-season grasses thrive in warmer temperatures ranging from 75 to 85 F. (24-29 C.).
Transplanting Fountain Grass
Transplanting fountain grass is not always necessary; however, it can be dug up and divided in areas where overcrowding may occur or if more plants are simply desired. Division usually depends on spacing or visual appearance. For instance, plants suffering from die-out in the center can be divided to improve their appearance. Division can be performed in early spring prior to new growth or after the growing season in the late summer or fall.
Taking care of fountain grass is a rewarding undertaking for a gardener. By growing fountain grass, you add a low maintenance option to your garden.
( Little Bunny Fountain Grass )
‘Little Bunny’ is a dwarf form of the species. Clump-forming grass white to pinkish cattail-like flower heads from summer through fall, and often into winter. Great combination with coreopsis, black-eyed susan, autumn joy sedum and others. Can be used in a container. Needs some water, especially where summers are really hot. May need to be replanted where winters are really cold.
Google Plant Images:
Cultivar: Little Bunny
Size: Height: 0.83 ft. to 0.92 ft.
Width: 0 ft. to 1 ft.
Plant Category: ornamental grasses and bamboos,
Plant Characteristics: dwarf, low maintenance,
Foliage Characteristics: evergreen,
Flower Characteristics: long lasting,
Flower Color: creams,
Tolerances: deer, drought, heat & humidity, pollution, rabbits, seashore, slope, wind,
Bloomtime Range: Mid Summer to Mid Summer
USDA Hardiness Zone: 6 to 9
AHS Heat Zone: Not defined for this plant
Light Range: Sun to Full Sun
pH Range: 5.5 to 8
Soil Range: Sandy Loam to Clay Loam
Water Range: Dry to Normal
How-to : Fertilization for Established Plants
Established plants can benefit from fertilization. Take a visual inventory of your landscape. Trees need to be fertilized every few years. Shrubs and other plants in the landscape can be fertilized yearly. A soil test can determine existing nutrient levels in the soil. If one or more nutrients is low, a specific instead of an all-purpose fertilizer may be required. Fertilizers that are high in N, nitrogen, will promote green leafy growth. Excess nitrogen in the soil can cause excessive vegetative growth on plants at the expense of flower bud development. It is best to avoid fertilizing late in the growing season. Applications made at that time can force lush, vegetative growth that will not have a chance to harden off before the onset of cold weather.
Conditions : Full Sun
Full Sun is defined as exposure to more than 6 hours of continuous, direct sun per day.
How-to : Xeriscaping
Xeriscaping is a method of planting which promotes naturally drought tolerant plants and water saving methods. Much consideration is given not only to the plants chosen for the design, but the design itself. Lawns are greatly decreased in size and usually located in the center of plantings at a lower grade as to catch any runoff. Shrubs requiring the most water, are conservatively used and thoughtfully placed, where they may be easily watered, preferably from runoff, and moisture conserved. There is a strong emphasis on using native plants, which a purist will do exclusively. At the very least, improved cultivars of natives are highly recommended.
Irrigation maybe used to supplement watering, but takes a creative turn in the form of drip systems and recycled catch water. Organic mulches in the form of compost, straws, and barks are also used to retain as much water as possible. In extremely dry areas, it is not uncommon for gravel and rocks to serve as the mulch.
A xeriphytic landscape is one that takes your particular site into consideration. A plant that maybe considered low water usage in one area of the country, may not be in another area, due to climatic stresses.
Conditions : Normal Watering for Outdoor Plants
Normal watering means that soil should be kept evenly moist and watered regularly, as conditions require. Most plants like 1 inch of water a week during the growing season, but take care not to over water. The first two years after a plant is installed, regular watering is important for establishment. The first year is critical. It is better to water once a week and water deeply, than to water frequently for a few minutes.
How-to : Preparing Garden Beds
Use a soil testing kit to determine the acidity or alkalinity of the soil before beginning any garden bed preparation. This will help you determine which plants are best suited for your site. Check soil drainage and correct drainage where standing water remains. Clear weeds and debris from planting areas and continue to remove weeds as soon as they come up.
A week to 10 days before planting, add 2 to 4 inches of aged manure or compost and work into the planting site to improve fertility and increase water retention and drainage. If soil composition is weak, a layer of topsoil should be considered as well. No matter if your soil is sand or clay, it can be improved by adding the same thing: organic matter. The more, the better; work deep into the soil. Prepare beds to an 18 inch deep for perennials. This will seem like a tremendous amount of work now, but will greatly pay off later. Besides, this is not something that is easily done later, once plants have been established.
How-to : Preparing Containers
Containers are excellent when used as an ornamental feature, a planting option when there is little or no soil to plant in, or for plants that require a soil type not found in the garden or when soil drainage in the garden is inferior. If growing more than one plant in a container, make sure that all have similar cultural requirements. Choose a container that is deep and large enough to allow root development and growth as well as proportional balance between the fully developed plant and the container. Plant large containers in the place you intend them to stay. All containers should have drainage holes. A mesh screen, broken clay pot pieces(crock) or a paper coffee filter placed over the hole will keep soil from washing out. The potting soil you select should be an appropriate mix for the plants you have chosen. Quality soils (or soil-less medias) absorb moisture readily and evenly when wet. If water runs off soil upon initial wetting, this is an indicator that your soil may not be as good as you think.
Prior to filling a container with soil, wet potting soil in the bag or place in a tub or wheelbarrow so that it is evenly moist. Fill container about halfway full or to a level that will allow plants, when planted, to be just below the rim of the pot. Rootballs should be level with soil line when project is complete. Water well.
How-to : Planting Perennials
Determine appropriate perennials for your garden by considering sun and shade through the day, exposure, water requirements, climate, soil makeup, seasonal color desired, and position of other garden plants and trees.
The best times to plant are spring and fall, when soil is workable and out of danger of frost. Fall plantings have the advantage that roots can develop and not have to compete with developing top growth as in the spring. Spring is more desirable for perennials that dislike wet conditions or for colder areas, allowing full establishment before first winter. Planting in summer or winter is not advisable for most plants, unless planting a more established sized plant.
To plant container-grown plants: Prepare planting holes with appropriate depth and space between. Water the plant thoroughly and let the excess water drain before carefully removing from the container. Carefully loosen the root ball and place the plant in the hole, working soil around the roots as you fill. If the plant is extremely root bound, separate roots with fingers. A few slits made with a pocket knife are okay, but should be kept to a minimum. Continue filling in soil and water thoroughly, protecting from direct sun until stable.
To plant bare-root plants: Plant as soon as possible after purchase. Prepare suitable planting holes, spread roots and work soil among roots as you fill in. Water well and protect from direct sun until stable.
To plant seedlings: A number of perennials produce self-sown seedlings that can be transplanted. You may also start your own seedling bed for transplanting. Prepare suitable planting holes, spacing appropriately for plant development. Gently lift the seedling and as much surrounding soil as possible with your garden trowel, and replant it immediately, firming soil with fingertips and water well. Shade from direct sun and water regularly until stable.
Fungi : Rusts
Most rusts are host specific and overwinter on leaves, stems and spent flower debris. Rust often appears as small, bright orange, yellow, or brown pustules on the underside of leaves. If touched, it will leave a colored spot of spores on the finger. Caused by fungi and spread by splashing water or rain, rust is worse when weather is moist.
Prevention and Control: Plant resistant varieties and provide maximum air circulation. Clean up all debris, especially around plants that have had a problem. Do not water from overhead and water only during the day so that plants will have enough time to dry before night. Apply a fungicide labeled for rust on your plant.
Fungi : Leaf Spots
Leaf spots are caused by fungi or bacteria. Brown or black spots and patches may be either ragged or circular, with a water soaked or yellow-edged appearance. Insects, rain, dirty garden tools, or even people can help its spread.
Prevention and Control: Remove infected leaves when the plant is dry. Leaves that collect around the base of the plant should be raked up and disposed of. Avoid overhead irrigation if possible; water should be directed at soil level. For fungal leaf spots, use a recommended fungicide according to label directions.
Glossary : Drought Tolerant
Very few plants, except for those naturally found in desert situations, can tolerate arid soils, but there are plants that seem to be more drought tolerant than others. Plants that are drought tolerant still require moisture, so don’t think that they can go for extended period without any water. Drought tolerant plants are often deep rooted, have waxy or thick leaves that conserve water, or leaf structures that close to minimize transpiration. All plants in droughty situations benefit from an occasional deep watering and a 2-3 inch thick layer of mulch. Drought tolerant plants are the backbone of xeriphytic landscaping.
Chinese pennisetum, pennisetum alopecuroides belongs to the most beautiful and striking grasses in the garden. These easy-care plants belong to the family of sweet grasses and grow in dense tussocks. Thus, they make great fill-ins in beds. When other flowers already wither, Chinese pennisetum shows its whole beauty. Our instructions describe caretaking of the plant.
- Family: Sweet grasses (Poaceae)
- Genus: Pennisetum
- Species: Pennisetum alopecuroides
- Trivial names: Chinese pennisetum, Chinese fountain grass, dwarf fountain grass, foxtail fountain grass
- Origin: Australia up to Eastern Asia
- Persistent, herbaceous plant, perennial
- Height: mostly roughly 30 to 60 cm, depending on the species up to 120 cm
- Blossoming period from August to October
- Long, dark-green leaves, florescence and false-spikes
- Forms dense tussocks, narrow leaves
- Gras shrub, propagation by division
Many nature lovers know this plant as Chinese fountain grass. The botanic name Pennisetum alopecuroides can be found in professional shops. The persistent, herbaceous plant decorates every part of the garden with its height of up to 120 centimeters. According to its original habitat, the Chinese pennisetum prefers a dry place. The different kinds of these grasses differ, which we will cover in this caretaking instruction.
The botanic name Pennisetum describes the appearance in open nature very well. “Penna” means “feather” and “Seta” describes the “stubbles”. This refers to the pretty florescence, which is fit for drying and can be used for bouquets. Due to its height and the narrow leaves, the blades elegantly swing in the wind. Even in uncomfortable fall and in cold winter, Chinese pennisetum decorates the garden within a white cover of snow.
Several wild kinds of Chinese pennisetum (pennisetum alopecuroides) are known. In the last decades, a new species has successfully been developed. There are winter-durable non-winter-durable species.
The following are known:
- Hameln, with an average height of up to 50 cm, it starts to blossom with white-greenish panicles in early summer, which develop to brown-red false-spikes
- Moudry has deep green leaves and even purple to black panicles with a height of up to 50 cm
- Little Bunny, the name hints to its small size, the blades only reach 10 to 30 cm with barrel-shaped flower spikes and very pretty long dark-green blades
There are only a few rules to consider with this grass-shrub. Here are the most important tips of how to take care of the Chinese pennisetum.
Especially in Australia, the Chinese pennisetum (pennisetum alopecuroides) grows in warm places with dry soil. It can easily be a little sandy or have loose structure. It is however absolutely important that the plant is not waterlogged. The plant should not be planted in gardens with a slope. They prefer even soils without being shadowed by trees of high bushes. If you are looking for a plant for a very sunny place, the Chinese pennisetum is a good choice.
Concerning soil, this grass-shrub is very undemanding. Heavy or clay-containing soils should be adjusted with sand before planting. Also, small pebbles make for rainwater to drain quickly.
Take care of:
- Light, undemanding soil
- Lots of sun
- Sufficient drainage
In any case, you should away heavy soil that cause waterlogging. The plants are sensitive to it and react with apparent drought. However, this shows that the plant gets too much water. Pebbles, lose soil and sand are very well fit to create the perfect soil conditions for Chinese pennisetum.
The substrate has to be permeable. A mixture of common garden soil, sand, a little compos, pebbles or coconut fiber can be used. If the Chinese pennisetum is inside a bucket, you can also use common flower soil.
Planting in Beds
Before you plant Chinese pennisetum (pennisetum alopecuroides), prepare the ground according to the local conditions. If the grass-shrub is supposed to be planted between other flowers, one has to make sure that the plants have the same demands in terms of soil and place. Thus, you should never put Chinese pennisetum next to plants that need soil rich in nutrients.
Two to five plants are calculated to cover one square meter. Consider that the initially small plants can reach great heights over the years. Of course, you can also only plant one Chinese pennisetum, which can then spread over time. This makes for a nice highlight.
When planting several plants, the distance is:
- 60 to 80 cm
- plant individually to create small tuffs in the bed
- water well after planting
- water with soft rain water
- completely plant the bales
- do not plant too deeply
The ideal period for planting is between February and October, sometimes in November. In any case, there should not be soil frost already. If you plant the shrub in spring, you can enjoy the beautiful flower in summer. The plant can receive a little compost, but only when planting it since it gives the plant a little burst of growth. However, the compost should not be too fresh.
Planting in Pots
The bucket is also suitable for pennisetum alopecuroides, Chinese pennisetum. The elegant plant selectively decorates the terrace or the entrance of the house. Potting or Repotting should be performed in spring until early fall, but spring – before the plant blossoms – is more favorable. You can use common flower or garden earth and make sure that rain or irrigating water can drain.
Foamed clay can be added as the very bottom layer inside of the bucket. It absorbs excessive water and gives it back to the roots in periods of drought. Water thoroughly with rain or stale tap water after planting.
Important for Chinese pennisetum in buckets:
- light soil
- add compost when planting
- avoid waterlogging and drought
Normally, one does not need to water pennisetum alopecuroides, Chinese pennisetum frequently. This should be avoided: Both ongoing drought and waterlogging. The plant does not mind one or two days of complete drought. But then it should soon be watered. Ideally, one uses rain or stale water. Water moderately! Also, the water should not be too cold.
In buckets, the finger test is the best way to check if the plant needs water. If the Chinese pennisetum is planted in a pot made of plastic, the water evaporates more quickly than if it is in one made of terracotta. Therefore, plants in plastic pots need more frequent watering than those in beds.
Tip: Avoid complete drought of the plants, do not use cold tap water and if brown tips develop, the plant is too dry.
Generally, Chinese pennisetum (pennisetum alopecuroides) does not need fertilizer. After a couple of years in the same place, it can however become necessary to give the plant a little boost of nutrients. The soil, which is poor in nutrients anyway, is drained. Thus, it makes sense to fertilize the plant a little. The emphasis is on “a little”!
The following fertilizers can be used:
- pond water; it contains lots of good nutrients for the plant and is very soft
- liquid complete fertilizer, fit for green plants
- or a shrub fertilizer
- Blaukorn can also be used
- compost soil is always ideal
- Horn shavings as long-term fertilizer in summer
Fertilization should be performed before and during blossoming, that is when then plants especially need nutrients. Liquid fertilizer is very heavily diluted and the plant should be watered every two weeks. Similarly diluted – in comparison to other plants – shrub fertilizer can be used. Calculate roughly 50 % less than you would use conventionally.
In the end, the conditions of the soil decide about this. A small handful of horn shavings can be worked into the soil. Also, compost earth can be used, which should never be too fresh. Fresh humus can “burn” the roots of the plants.
In a nutshell: Chinese pennisetum (pennisetum alopecuroides) does not need pruning. For the sake of the beauty of this grass shrub, dried out stalks can be removed. In no case, the grass should be cut down in fall. This is due to the fact that the plant needs long stalks to avoid rot from too much moisture. Not before spring, after the last ground frost in March or April, the plant can be cut to a height of roughly 10 to 20 cm.
If Chinese pennisetum should grow too narrowly in spring, parting of the roots can be rewarding to stimulate growth.
The preparations for overwintering of Chinese pennisetum (pennisetum alopecuroides) begin before the first ground frost. In no case, the high grass should be cut in fall. Rot or frost damages can result from the additional moisture from rain or snow. As long as the plant does not stand in a wind-protected place, it needs protective isolation in winter.
This can be achieved by adding mulch or some layers of brushwood and foliage. Textiles like fleece can also be wrapped around the shrub. Roughly half of the high grasses should be covered. This way, they do not fall apart from each other during snowfall.
If Chinese pennisetum (pennisetum alopecuroides) is planted in a bucket, it is sufficient to put the bucket into a greenhouse or a dry room in the basement. The pretty grass is not watered or fertilized during the cold resting period.
Chinese pennisetum is propagated by the method of division.
Propagation could not be easier. After the plants have reached considerable height after some years, they are carefully lifted out of the ground and divided. The root bale is cut with a knife. Several small plants can develop from a large one and be put into new places. Also, this way of propagation is especially a good idea for stimulation of root growth.
Thanks to its delicate beauty, pennisetum alopecuroides, Chinese pennisetum is a perfect fit for winter months. While other plants have already lost all of their leaves, the stalks in the flowerbeds still wave in the wind. They are ornamental, especially when the garden soil is covered in a white blanket of snow. During this time, the grass loses its green coloration, but it defies the cold with its yellowish stalks and the pretty false-spikes.
This is why Chinese pennisetum, pennisetum alopecuroides is an appreciated garden plant. For the sake of protection, the stalks can be bound together a little. If Chinese pennisetum is unprotected from severe winds, it should be covered with a layer of mulch, brushwood or hay. Also, fleeces can be very helpful. It is wrapped around the shrub in a width of roughly 20 to 20 cm and fixed with a garden cord.
The species that are not winter-durable are rather fit for the bucket and are put into the greenhouse or a dry room in the basement.
Generally, Chinese pennisetum (pennisetum alopecuroides) is not very vulnerable when it comes to diseases. In perfect conditions, they grow very well and ecstasize the visitor with its beauty. The only risk is rot, which can also present as so-called “rust”. Long-term treatment is an exchange of the soil since rot can only develop in ongoing wet conditions. During exchanging the soil, you should make sure that all affected parts are removed and are replaced with loose soil.
Tip: Chinese pennisetum should not be cut in fall to avoid rot.
Spider mites can be unpleasant. Common products can be used in an emergency. Alternatively, it can be sufficient to spray water onto the plants. The little crawlers then often vanish already.
Otherwise, Chinese pennisetum is very robust in terms of pests.
Tips and Timing for Cutting Back Ornamental Grass
Last Updated: April 30, 2015 | by Mike McGroarty
Ornamental grass is a great addition to just about any landscape. Graceful ornamental grass clumps add delightful texture and interest to the garden in all seasons, they are incredibly easy to care for and there are hardy ornamental grass varieties suitable for any climate.
Gardeners who are plagued with ravenous deer can also enjoy ornamental grass in their gardens as the plants are generally disliked by deer.
Questions people often have about ornamental grass are “when should the grass be cut back?” along with “how is it done?”
There are several opinions about when ornamental grass should be cut back once it flowers and becomes dry, and about as many opinions on how it should be done.
Here at FreePlants.com we’re all about keeping gardening simple and easy, and cutting back ornamental grass is no exception. It doesn’t have to be a difficult, daunting task.
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One thing you need to know before cutting back the dry, dead stems of ornamental grass is whether the grass is a cool season or warm season grass. If you don’t know what particular variety of ornamental grass is in your yard, observing its growth habits will tell you whether it is a cool season or warm season grass.
Cool season ornamental grass begins to produce its new growth quite early in the spring, soon after temperatures begin to stay above freezing. Cool season grasses flower by early summer, making them good additions in the short growing season of a northern garden.
Warm season grasses begin to grow much later in the spring, sometimes so late that you may begin to wonder if they made it through winter. Warm season grasses begin flowering later in the summer and into the fall.
Some of the cool season ornamental grasses are fescue, ribbon grass (Phalaris), feather grass (Stipa), northern sea oats and tufted hair grass. Warm season ornamental grass includes both little and big bluestem, Japanese blood grass, maiden grass (Miscanthus), fountain grass (Pennisetum) and hardy pampas grass (Saccharum).
The spent flowers and seedheads of ornamental grass, along with the dried foliage, can add interest to the landscape throughout winter. Although the dead foliage of either cool season or warm season grasses could be cut back in late fall, many gardeners enjoy the beauty of the foliage throughout winter.
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Unless the plant becomes too shabby over winter, trimming back the dead stems of cool season ornamental grass can wait until the first balmy, late winter or very early spring day.
As soon as any snow melts and the ground begins to thaw, cool season grasses should be cut back. Waiting too long risks damaging the new shoots that will begin to emerge as soon as the weather begins to shift toward spring.
Cut back cool season grasses so about a third of last year’s growth remains. Be careful to not cut back a cool season ornamental grass too far, as this can seriously harm the plant.
Resist the temptation to burn off the dead foliage of a cool season grass, as this will also damage the growing tips. Don’t worry that these remaining dried stems will be unsightly, because the bright new spring growth will soon hide it nicely.
Warm season grasses can be left standing later into the spring while you take care of more urgent gardening tasks. Providing you don’t wait so long that the new foliage is already emerging, warm season grasses can be cut back to the ground.
If you can already see some new green growth emerging as you prepare to trim the plant, just cut above it, being careful to not damage the new growth, otherwise all season long the plant will look like it has a crew cut.
Always wear heavy gloves and long sleeves while working with ornamental grass. The leaves on some, especially the Miscanthus varieties, can be very sharp and can quickly tear up your hands and arms. Wear eye protection as you cut the grass, to prevent bits of dried grass from getting into your eyes.
Ask a dozen experts and they’ll give you a dozen different methods for cutting back ornamental grass. Some suggest using a hedge trimmer, others say a grass trimmer with a blade rather than a nylon line will do the job effectively.
There are those who use a curved pruning saw while others say a finely serrated bread knife is the right tool for the job. Any of those tools will work fine, but adding one more step will make the task, and the cleanup afterwards, much easier.
Tie a rope or wrap a bungee cord or two around the ornamental grass clump before cutting the dead foliage. Tie or wrap the grass fairly tightly about two feet up from ground level, and then cut below the rope or bungee cord. Not only will this make the grass easier to handle as you cut it, but the entire bundle can then be carried away in one neat package.
If your ornamental grass is growing a bit too large for its space in the garden, you may want to divide the grass once it has been cut back. Smaller clumps can be dug out with a spade, but if the clump is rather large and unwieldy, power tools will simplify the job.
Use a reciprocating saw with a ten-inch blade to cut down into the ground through the entire root system. Determine how many sections you want to get from the clump, then cut it up into sections with the saw. Then simply dig up the little squares and replant them to make more ornamental grass plants for your yard.
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