How to Rejuvenate Ornamental Grass


After a couple seasons, your ornamental grass may look not look as vibrant. How can you rejuvenate it?
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Ornamental grasses don’t need much maintenance, but they eventually need rejuvenation. If your ornamental grasses are looking worn down or even dying, you need to figure out what is wrong and develop a new strategy.

What can be causing the problems, and how do you fix it?

Common Problems

There are several possible reasons your ornamental grasses are not doing well:

1. Not Enough Sun

If the flower plumes (known as inflorescences) are intermittent or nonexistent, the plant is probably not receiving enough light.

2. Too Much Water

Once the plant is established, most ornamental grasses don’t require any extra water. If the plant is young or fresh, you may need to water it once a week. Aside from that, most ornamental grasses are drought-resistant and flourish on minimal water.

Overwatering can result in root rot, which will kill the plant. Only use water when it’s really necessary.

3. Too Much Fertilizer

The majority of ornamental grasses do not need to be fertilized. Overfertilization is more dangerous than a lack of nutrients for the plant.

The only exception is if you wish to grow decorative grass in pots outside. After a year or two, the soil may be low in nutrients, and a small bit of fertilizer can make a big difference.

What fertilizer should you use if you must? Organic fertilizers are good for ornamental grasses since they gradually release nutrients. Well-rotted manure and leaf mold will all enhance the plant’s health.

Fertilizing cool-season grasses in hot weather is a bad decision since the nutrients encourage the plant to develop when it should be resting.

The use of potassium in the fall is supposed to improve winter hardiness. The amount of potassium in a fertilizer is indicated by the last number on the fertilizer package.

tall summer flowering grass in the garden

Cut and Divide It

It’s usually time to divide your ornamental grass if it has a huge dead spot in the center or has been flopping for a few years. You might also want to reconsider the location where your plant is growing.

Read our post on cutting ornamental grasses for further information on how much to cut and divide it. This is an excellent technique to give your grass a new appearance while simultaneously dividing and propagating it.

Like any other plant, cutting the plant back encourages the plant to grow new leaves in the same spot, each one more vibrant than the last. When you trim a plant, you’re mimicking how animals nibble at the leaves in nature. The plant grows once, twice, or three times in the same spot before it stops developing in a specific direction or beyond a certain point.

You’ll have to cut the blades a few times before the plant begins to stay green rather than expand; this is known as training the grass. It will, however, continue to grow, requiring you to continue trimming it, albeit less frequently.

As a general rule, remember to prune the leaves every year. This pruning will be difficult, but it will help your plant’s roots survive the winter. Light pruning will suffice for the rest of the year.

Types of Grass That Make Good Dried Arrangements

If you have ornamentals that aren’t doing well, consider using them to create dried arrangements. Cut the stems when the blossoms are full but before the seeds have fully developed when making dried arrangements. This ensures the seeds won’t fall off and eliminates the need for gluing agents.

Combine robust blooms like Miscanthus with delicate Molinia or Panicum blossoms for a stunning arrangement.

Below you will find a list of grasses that make excellent dried arrangements. 

Calamagrostis

Calamagrostis is admired for the powerful vertical emphasis it adds to a border. It is among the first grasses to bloom and remains lovely throughout the winter. It thrives on clay and moist soils.

Miscanthus

Miscanthus is a genus that contains around 20 species. The name is derived from the Greek words mischos, which means “stalk,” and anthos, which means “flowers.” This refers to the small blooms that adorn the spectacular plumes of the plant.

For optimal results, grow this species in broad light and avoid over-fertilizing. Choose late-flowering varieties if reseeding is an issue. Cold regions have a shorter growing season, which decreases or eliminates undesirable seed germination.

miscanthus sinensis full grown along road

Panicum

These natural prairie grasses of North America are not only beautiful, they are also resilient and useful. Deep, fibrous root systems let them endure poor soil and dryness, and they need little fertilizer and require little upkeep.

Molinia

This species’ fountain-like appearance and enormous dimensions are spectacular. In the summer, they have arching thread-like leaves that are capped with a cluster of tiny flower spikes. It is highly valued in Europe, as seen by the names of various cultivars, but is underappreciated in the United States.

Stipa

The Stipa genus contains over 200 grasses, several of which are important feed crops. Stipa grasses are distinguished by their tufted, clump forms and lengthy awns. Their leaves are pleated, curled, or linear, and their blossoms are feathery or bristly. The majority favor drier climates.

Tall grass abundance white stings on leaves

Bring in Potted Grasses for the Winter

I recommend bringing in potted plants and grass for the winter. Consider doing the following:

  • Get rid of the blooms.
  • Place close to a basement window.
  • Maintain a dry, but not bone-dry, environment.
  • In the spring, fertilize and prune.
Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
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