Winterizing Ornamental Grasses


January 3, 2016

Home gardeners are showing more interest in planting ornamental grasses in their spring and summer landscapes. This often leads to the question, “How do I care for these plants in the winter?” Ornamental grasses are great landscape choices and can really add color and interesting texture to any garden. In fact in an earlier Southern Gardening segment we looked at some of the ornamental grass options available to the home gardener. Now a question I get this time of year is when do I cut my ornamental grass back and I always answer by saying leave it alone, for now. The dried leaves, stalks and seeds heads provide visual winter interest for us and winter structure and habitat for the birds and other wildlife. I will tell you there will come a day in later winter when you just need to get out of the house and do something in the yard, that’s when you cut the grasses back. Go ahead and cut down to about 6-inches from the ground. This removes last year’s foliage making room for this year’s new growth. Now’s also a good time to divide the plants as most ornamental grasses spread by clumping. Use a sharp shovel or spade and dig the entire clump. Chop up into three or four pieces, there’s no need to be dainty. Proceed to replant and give some away to neighbors. I like ornamental grasses in the landscape because they provide four seasons of garden interest and for this reason you should like them too. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.

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