Care and Maintenance of Ornamental Grasses 2022

Care and Maintenance of Ornamental Grasses 2022

Ornamental grasses can be a beautiful, low-maintenance addition to a patio or garden. Pruning of most ornamental grasses consists of an annual trimming. Deciduous grasses (dormant grasses) need to be trimmed for most of their length during their dormant phase or before new growth begins. Evergreen grasses (grasses that are green year-round) usually only need to be trimmed a little in length. After that, a little manual pruning is more than enough to keep your lawn looking good.


Ornamental grasses require low levels of fertility. Keeping the nitrogen level low can keep lodging or tipping to a minimum. The color of the leaves and the plant’s vigor are good indicators of the need for nitrogen. 

I am applying a half-pound to one pound of a 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of acreage, or about a quarter cup per plant. Apply the fertilizer just as the plant resumes growth in the spring. The application of a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote is sufficient to cover the plant’s needs during the summer. Fertilizer must be incorporated with irrigation.

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For plants to develop a healthy root system, it is necessary to water them during the first season after planting. Established plants do not need regular watering but may require additional watering during dry spells. The amount of water depends on the species, location, quality, size, and desired growth rate.

Weed control

To keep weeds under control, it is advisable to remove the soil around the grass plants. Mulching greatly reduces the need to do this and water. This practice also helps control grasses that tend to put down seeds.

Protection in the winter and cleaning in the spring

It is not necessary to cut the grasses before winter. They look good, and the foliage helps protect the plant’s crown. In the spring, prune the plant to a height of 4 to 6 inches before it returns to growth. When the foliage is removed, spring growth begins earlier. Old foliage can delay crown warming and subsequent growth by about three weeks.


The division depends on the spacing and appearance of the plants and their general health. Plants starting to die from the center should divide to improve their appearance. The division is done in the spring before the plant resumes growth or in late summer or fall when the growing season ends. Late-blooming plants can be divided in the spring.

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Learn when ornamental grasses need to be cut and divide them, along with growing tips to keep grasses beautiful year-round.

Miscanthus grass

It’s easy to know when to reduce ornamental grass once you know the basics. It’s so much simpler than mowing, watering, and fertilizing that it may come to mind when you think of traditional lawns. With ornamental grass, maintenance is much less intensive. Still, you can take steps to ensure your ornamental grasses sail into fall and winter looking sharp.

Irrigation and fertilization of ornamental grasses

“Many homeowners like ornamental grasses because they are

drought tolerant and rarely bothered by pests,” says Iowa landscape designer Dori Hein. “They rarely need fertilization. Fertilizing ornamental grasses can cause them to fall. “But low maintenance does not equal no maintenance. 

“Summer is the best time to keep an eye on watering needs, especially during the plant’s first year, while it is establishing roots,” says Dori. “I like to leave a natural mulch, too, because it mimics natural conditions and feeds the plants as it decomposes. Just don’t place the mulch against the base of the plant because it can cause the crown to rot.”

When to cut and divide ornamental grasses

Once established, ornamental grasses have few needs. “The most important thing with grasses is to cut them once a year and divide them once every four or five years,” says Dori.

Most gardeners leave their native grasses in place for winter interest and to provide bird food. The time to trim ornamental grasses is in late winter or early spring. Cut them a few inches off the ground. “Cut before the new shoots grow through the old ones,” adds Dori, “or you’ll end up cutting back the new growth as well.” In areas where wildfires are a seasonal concern, cut grass in the fall to lessen the fire threat.

You’ll know it’s time to divide the grass when a ring of live grass surrounds a standstill. “It’s easier to divide most grasses when they’re still missing their post-winter haircut, so there’s no foliage to get in the way,” says Dori. It is also the best time to divide grasses bloom in late summer and fall. Use a sharp shovel or root saw and separate the live portion of the grass into smaller sections. Aim for sections that are slightly larger than a baseball. Replant the sections, water well, and enjoy through the seasons.

Ornamental grass benefits

Don’t miss out on these ornamental grass benefits for your garden.

  • Check out unsightly utilities and other items in the yard.
  • Add some privacy by bordering a patio with tall ornamental grasses.
  • Softens the harshest aspect of a structure, fence, or corner
  • Create a setting for the plants to stand out against the grassy background.
  • Provide an environment with the relaxing sights and sounds of the grass swaying in the wind.

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Luke miller

Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years of experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a retailer. He grew up across the street from a park nursery and had a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his BA in journalism, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.

Here are 12 of the most popular ornamental grasses to grow.

  • 01 of 12. Blue Fescue. The Spruce / David Beaulieu. …
  • 02 of 12. Mexican Feather Grass. …
  • 03 of 12. Japanese Forest Grass. …
  • 04 of 12. Zebra Grass. …
  • 05 of 12. Bamboo. …
  • 06 of 12. Purple Fountain Grass. …
  • 07 of 12. New Zealand Flax. …
  • 08 of 12. Japanese Blood Grass.

When do ornamental grasses start to grow? With the growing popularity of ornamental grasses, this is a question many gardeners are asking. It is important to understand how these plants work to grow them properly.

The beginning of its growth depends on the temperature. Some herbs grow best when the soil is warm and stable, while others begin to grow and in early spring when temperatures are still cool.


  • Cold season ornamental grasses
  • Warm-season herbs
  • Ornamental grasses frequently asked questions
    • Do I have to cut ornamental grasses?
    • When should I divide ornamental grasses?
    • Can I grow these grasses from seed?
  • Six reasons why you should invest in a mini greenhouse
    • Protect your plants from harmful insects animals
    • Ideal people with limited space in the garden
    • Start planting early
    • Keep your plants safe from inclement weather
  • Conclusion: When do ornamental grasses start to grow?


As mentioned, cool-season grass generally grows in early spring and will remain semi-perennial throughout winter season. If you give them enough water during hot weather, they will grow best during cold temperatures. Your ornamental grasses will go dormant and have brown foliage if you don’t.

To keep them healthy, they may need frequent splitting, or else they will die in the middle. For semi-green ornamental grasses, cut back dark parts or areas damaged by winter.

Examples of cold-weather ornamental grasses include Autumn Moor Grass, Blue Oat Grass, Tufted Hair Grass.


Some ornamental grasses thrive best during warmer weather. They remain healthy at high temperatures and limited humidity. These grasses do not grow until the climate becomes more stable and the soil temperature rises.

If you planted your grasses in previous seasons, they would start to brown in the fall. When this happens, you may need to trim them back when spring season hits (about four to six inches). These grasses do not need frequent dividing compared to cool-season grasses.

Examples of warm climate grasses include Japanese silver grass, prairie cordgrass, and hardy pampas grass.


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about ornamental grasses:

Do I have to cut ornamental grasses?

Yes, ornamental grasses need to be cut to make them look beautiful and healthy. For cool-season ornamental grasses, cut back in early spring, remove dead leaves, and cut the entire plant above the crown or at its base.

You can cut them in late winter or early spring warm-season grasses. You can leave the seed heads to preserve your winter aesthetic.

When should I divide ornamental grasses?

There are several cases where you need divide your ornamental grasses. You should do this when the grass is already too big for your space, your plants are growing all over place and are limp, and if the center part of the cluster appears dead or is browning.

Before the active growth cycle begins, the best time to divide plants is in early spring for cool-climate grasses and late spring for warm-climate grasses.

You don’t have to excavate the entire plant; instead, dig around the outside of your ornamental grasses with a shovel. Get small sections of the outer edges and replant them wherever you want.

Can I grow these grasses from seed?

Definitely! Starting with seeds is more profitable than buying ornamental grasses. But keep in mind that it may take several years before you have fully grown ornamental grasses.


There are several reasons to grow your plants in a mini greenhouse. Whether you’re growing ornamental grasses or farm produce, here are some of the reasons a mini greenhouse kit is a great investment:

Protect your plants from harmful insects and animals

Aphids, beetles, caterpillars, snails, raccoons, rodents, and other insects and animals can pose a threat to the growth of your plants. These pesky critters love to chew on leaves and produce, which could lead to poor plant growth and a lower harvest. Keeping them inside a greenhouse keeps them away from insects and animals that could potentially destroy all of your hard work.

Ideal for people with limited space in the garden

Ornamental grasses are not only ideal for gardens but also for smaller spaces. With a mini greenhouse, you can enjoy growing ornamental grasses no matter where you live. You can place small greenhouses anywhere: on balconies, terraces, patios, and even tables. Even if they are small, you can still enjoy the same benefits that normal greenhouses provide.

Start planting early

With a mini greenhouse, you can start planting early, even before the cold season begins in your area. You can transfer your plants to your garden if once the weather improves. It is advantageous for those who cultivate since waiting for the spring to start sowing is unnecessary. This way, you can harvest your crops earlier than usual.

Keep your plants safe from inclement weather.

Mini greenhouses are great if you have young, perennial plants. Placing them inside a mini greenhouse keeps them safe from snow and frost during the winter season. You can place your plants in a greenhouse to keep them growing until spring arrives. Once the climate is right for the plants, you can transplant them back into your garden.


So when do ornamental grasses start to grow? The answer depends on whether it is warm or cool-season ornamental grasses. Cold-weather grasses begin to grow in early spring, while warm-weather variants thrive best in warm weather. Juncus patens ‘Elk Blue’, blue rush · Calamagrostis foliosa, Cape Mendocino reed grass · Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’, eyelash grass · Carex nudata

Do ornamental grasses need to be cut back every year?

Since they are evergreen, they don’t normally need pruning. Perfectionists can always pull out any dead or yellow leaves one by one (wear rubber gloves: the dead leaves will be easier to grip onto) in order to “clean” the plant, but otherwise they will look pretty good on their own with no special care at all.

What is the prettiest ornamental grass?

The Prettiest Ornamental Grasses for Sun and Shade

  • Carex. …
  • Orange New Zealand Sedge. …
  • Mexican Feather Grass. …
  • Ornamental Millet. …
  • Umbrella Grass. …
  • Scottish Tufted Hair Grass. …
  • Purple Fountain Grass. …
  • Pink Muhly Grass. ‘Plumetastic’ Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) has a mounding growth habit, with green, grass-like foliage.

Do ornamental grasses like sun or shade?

Most Ornamental Grass varieties appreciate sun, and will perform best when grown in full sunlight. Some varieties, though sun-loving will do well in partial shade, but would be taller or more sturdy when given an exposure of full sun.

Which ornamental grasses are perennial?

  • Best Perennial Ornamental Grasses.
  • Blue Fescue: Festuca glauca This hardy perennial grass has been used for some time in gardens across the country. …
  • Blue Oat Grass: Helictotrichon sempervirens Somewhat similar to Blue Fescue, Oat Grass is also a cool season grass, growing in upright clumps

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