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Growing Ornamental Grasses – A Full Guide

Introduction: Hello gardeners how about learning the topic of growing Ornamental Grasses in your garden? well, we help you with it. Ornamental Grasses comprise a marvelous set of plants requiring little care. Some of the excellent things about ornamental grasses are they are a long-lasting and good value for money. Grasses are one of the main successful plant groups on earth and come in a multitude of sizes, with showy blades in red, orange, yellow, and even purple colors. Grasses are hardy, resistant to pests and diseases and are fast-growing.

A step by step guide to growing Ornamental grasses

Ornamental Grasses can be grown under several diverse soil conditions, and are usually free of disease and insect problems. Many varieties of Ornamental Grasses such as Fountain Grass or Aureola Hakenechloa are tolerant of severe drought. Many large varieties make the illusion of movement, especially in the slightest breeze.

Home gardeners have created that Ornamental Grasses combine well with other flowers, providing an interesting range of textures and colors to the garden. They can be used successfully to set off small or large lawn areas. The range of color is quite diverse, from the bluest of blues to green, chartreuse, some variegated with silver, white or yellow color, to the reddest of reds. Ornamental Grasses are truly outstanding landscape plants, giving a bonus of material for long-lasting flower arrangements.

Caring for ornamental grasses in containers is essentially the same as any other outdoor potted plant. They require regular water, but most are not as thirsty as flowering plants. Feed the plants with a high nitrogen fertilizer a couple of times during the summer, and you will require to cut them back each spring or fall. Other than that, the main maintenance is dividing them when they outgrow their containers, which can happen quite quickly.

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Diiferent Types of Ornamental Grasses.
Diiferent Types of Ornamental Grasses.

For best results, plant grasses in an open sunny position either directly in the ground or in containers or pots. They do not need much feeding, with one spring feed typically sufficient.

Cool Season Grasses

Cool-season grass will start to grow early in the spring and can even remain semi-evergreen over the winter. Cool-season grasses also seem to do better and have improved foliage quality when temperatures are cool or if they are given sufficient water during drought periods.

Some of the popular cool-season grasses include Fescues, Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon), Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia), and Autumn Moor Grass (Sesleria).

Warm Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses will do better during warmer times of the year and remain excellent looking even when temperatures are high and moisture is limited. Warm-season grasses do not start to show growth until the weather becomes stable and the soils warm.

Some of the warm season grasses include Northern Sea Oats, Japanese Silver Grass, Hardy Pampas Grass, Perennial Fountain Grass, Switch Grass, and Prairie Cord Grass.

Prepare the soil for planting Ornamental grasses

While most Ornamental grasses grow best in slightly moist, well-drained soil, several varieties prefer heavy clay soil and wet conditions. When growing a variety that needs lighter soil that drains well, you’ll get excellent results by preparing in-ground planting areas. Mix 3 inches of garden soil into the top 6 inches of existing soil to give your new Ornamental grasses a boost of nutrition and just the right environment to build a strong root system.

Light requirement for growing Ornamental grasses

Most Ornamental grass varieties appreciate the sun and will make the best when grown in full sunlight. Some varieties, though sun-loving will do well in partial shade but would be taller when given exposure of the full sun. The variety of descriptions must help you decide where you can place your Ornamental Grasses.

Transplanting Ornamental grass

A little help, in the beginning, will get Ornamental Grasses off to a good start. Care for your Ornamental plants as you would any new addition to your garden. If soil is dry when you transplant, make sure to fill in the large planting hole with water before setting in the new plant. Add some compost to the soil, fill in the planting matter around Ornamental Grass, and water again.

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Plant Propagation for growing Ornamental grasses

Ornamental grasses are grown from seed. Ornamental grass seeds can be directly seeded into a flower garden or started indoors for transplanting later.

If planting outdoors, sow them after the soil has begun to warm in the spring season. Sow seeds early in the season and cover lightly with soil and plant spacing varies, depending upon the variety. For indoor starts, grow them in flats, beginning 4 to 6 weeks before setting them out.

How to grow Ornamental grass

  • Ornamental grass plants are easy to grow. They choose the full sun. Soil and moisture requirements can differ by variety. In general, keeping the soil moist and well-fertilized will promote the healthiest Ornamental plants. To help you remember, fertilize them when fertilizing your lawn.
  • Dig a hole about twice the width of the container. Set the plant in the hole therefore that the base of the plant is at ground level. Gently loosen and spread out several roots that are wound around the plant. Feed with compost, backfill the soil, water, and add mulch to retain moisture and keep weeds down.
  • Once Ornamental grasses are established, they will grow well until frost. Annual varieties will want to be replanted each year.
  • Harvest Ornamental plant stalks and flower heads for indoor decorating in the fall. Hang upside down to dry in a cool, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight requirement.

Water requirement for growing Ornamental grasses

Except for the water-loving varieties, most ornamental grasses won’t need extra water once they have become established. Water every other day after planting gradually extends the time between watering. After 2 or 3 weeks, watering twice a week must be plenty. After grasses have been in the ground for a year, you shouldn’t need to water them unless the area hasn’t had rain for more than 3 weeks.

The spacing  for growing Ornamental grasses

Space Ornamental grass 1 to 3 feet apart depending on the plant variety. If you want Ornamental grasses to form a solid wall of greenery, plant closer together. Spreading grasses will fill in faster than clumping variety grasses, so they can be planted further apart.

Ornamental grass growing tips

  • Cut back ornamental grasses in the spring before new growth exist. Large clumps will require dividing about every 3 years.
  • Varieties with fine flowers and seed heads should have plain backgrounds to show off their blooms.
  • Specimen plants must be given plenty of room to grow, to eliminate clutter or visual competition.
  • Some seed heads move in a light breeze and plan carefully for sound and movement.
  • Plant the grasses in groups rather than singularly.
  • Make sure to plant tall grasses in large, heavy pots or containers to stop them from being blown over.
  • A good method to conserve moisture is to line the inside of terracotta pots with plastic from old compost bags.

Fertilizing Ornamental grasses

Other than mixing in some compost when planting, and adding an annual 1 to 2-inch thick layer of compost each spring, ornamental grasses don’t need extra fertilizer. If you’re growing ornamental grasses on poor soil, consider adding a small amount of an organic 5-5-5 fertilizer in spring.

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Pests and Diseases in Ornamental grasses

  • Ornamental grass can experience molds and fungus similar to lawn grasses, particularly in wet weather. This is most common when plants are overcrowded and insect problems are infrequent.
  • If insect or disease problems happen, then treat early with organic or chemical insect repellents and fungicide.
  • Ornamental grasses normally are low maintenance and pest free. Though, young plants and new growth can sometimes have aphids and spider mites on the foliage. Sprays of some insecticidal soap can kill them.
  • Diseases that are rust and powdery mildew, can also affect ornamental grasses, especially in wetter areas. Space plants further apart and cleans up the dead foliage well in winter or early spring to eliminate any fungal spores in the area.
  • While deer normally avoid most grasses, they still might show an interest, especially in ornamental grasses with young or more-tender leaves. Repellent sprays containing garlic, cayenne, rotten eggs or slaughterhouse waste, can be rotated and applied on the foliage to maintain deer away.

Types of Ornamental grasses to grow in your garden

List of the Ornamental grasses to grow in your garden;

Festuca – Fescue (Festuca glauca) is a colorful ornamental grass with icy blue foliage and pale yellow flowers. Festuca glauca is also known as blue fescue, is a species of flowering plant in the grass family, Poaceae.

Miscanthus Sinensis ‘Zebrinus’ – It is also known as zebra grass, this deciduous grass has impressive cream-colored bands along with the leaves. It grows in graceful arching tufts pink flowers in late summer.

Japanese Forest Grass – This Ornamental grass does best in rich, well-drained soil. It also needs frequent watering as well as an excellent mixture of sun and shade.

Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’ – This perennial grass is also called Japanese blood grass, has striking upright blades that turn bright red from late summer into autumn. It looks best when planted with other grasses or in containers or pots.

Red (Purple) Fountain Grass – Fountain grass is a natural for containers, filling the container with its fountain-like, arching habit. The rich, burgundy color of the ‘Rubrum’ cultivar makes it a preferred even where it is not hardy (it is a fast-growing grass that is easily grown as an annual). The narrow-bladed leaves produce 3 to 4 feet tall, with flower spikes that extend to 4 or 5 feet.

Stipa Calamagrostis – It is also called pheasant grass, this Stipa has arching leaves and feathery flowers that easily catch the wind. Use it to soften straight lines in the home garden and as a focal border plant.

Blue Oat Grass – Containers of blue oat grass bring a cooling blue-gray to the home garden as well as a gentle rustling sound and a texture that makes you want to reach out and touch the plant. The plants produce 2 to 3 feet tall, with thin spiky leaves and a clumping growth habit.

Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ – Fountain grass has impressive arching flowers, changing from pink to white to buff, over a long season from midsummer until the first frosts. Soft to the touch, the grass looks great when planted in large numbers to form a low hedge or screen.

Feather Reed Grass – This grass plant is incredibly low maintenance and needs little special care. It grows best in rich soils but can thrive in heavy clay soils as well. It generally will bloom substantially in the spring but continues to create year-round.

Blue Oat Grass – Blue Oat Grass requires regular water and sun. It also most generally blooms during the summer.

Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ – Compact and mound-forming, this blue fescue is perfect for smaller spaces and grows well in containers. Its elegant steel blue foliage will look fantastic in a garden and among Mediterranean-style plants.

Panicum virgatum ‘Purple Breeze’ – This hardy switchgrass plant has a slim appearance that looks neat in narrow borders and containers. The green leaves turn rich purple color from the tips downwards as the season progresses.

Fountain Grass – This plant does well in most conditions, although a little extra fertilizer will help it to truly flourish. It also doesn’t want to be watered regularly unless there is an intense drought occurring.

Miscanthus – Miscanthus is also called silver grass. Among the easiest ornamental grasses to produce, there is a Miscanthus variety for almost every garden use. While most Miscanthus makes substantial specimens, several are much more compact and suitable for small gardens, containers or pots, reaching only 3-4 ft. in height (90-120 cm).

Switchgrass – Switchgrass requires a lot of sunshine and moderately dry soil. It thrives in warmer conditions and oftentimes starts growing alongside roads if sufficient water is present.

Some Attractive ornamental grasses are;

  • Slender Sweet Flag ‘Ogon’
  • Arundo donax
  • Cortaderia (Pampas Grass)
  • Imperata
  • Millium

Advantages of Ornamental Grasses

Some advantages of ornamental grasses are given below;

In addition to their gorgeous glowing shape and lovely colors, ornamental grasses have some advantages, including;

  • Add motion and sound to the garden.
  • Attract birds to your yard.
  • Largely disease-free and easy to grow.
  • Deer and critter resistant.
  • Low maintenance, requiring little attention.
  • Offer year-round interest.
  • Contribute to any landscape plan, whether featured as specimens, grown in containers or pots, or used as fillers.
  • Ornamental grass plant is a low-maintenance landscape element once it’s planted. The grasses produce on their own without the need for pruning or maintenance.
  • Ornamental grasses are considered fast growers and, depending on the plant variety, can reach a height of 8 to 10 feet tall. That makes them ideal for creating a natural fence in the landscape providing privacy and wind protection for patios and other exterior common areas.

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