Feeding Ornamental Grasses
Do any of you have ornamental grasses that are floppy when
they should be standing nice and straight? There are a number
of possible reasons:
- the grass is not receiving enough sun
- the grass is receiving too much water
- the grass was given too much fertilizer
of Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' growing in very poor
soil with very little extra water
Ornamental grasses for the most part prefer pretty spartan,
or lean, conditions. I have a hedge of Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'
growing in extremely poor soil, with very little water having
been offered to it this summer, yet it looks magnificent.
Ornamental grasses grown on the lean side will have a longer
life and be sturdier.
What kind of fertilizer should you use if you feel you must?
Organic fertilizers release their nutrients slowly so are excellent
for ornamental grasses. Well-rotted manure, leaf mold, and mushroom
manure will all contribute to the health of the plant. Often
the easiest fertilizer to obtain is to simply purchase a bag
of organic fertilizer for lawns.
Exception: Miscanthus responds very well to
fertilizer and should not be floppy if well fed.
Cool season grasses definitely should not be fertilized during
hot weather because the nutrients push the plant to grow when
it wants to shut down. Visit our April
newsletter for a list of cool and warm season grasses.
The application of potassium in the fall is supposed to contribute
to winter hardiness. Potassium (potash) is the last number on
a bag of fertilizer.
Ornamental Grasses for Dried Arrangements
Depending on your climate, this may be an excellent
time to harvest the inflorescence (flowers) of ornamental
grasses for dried flower bouquets. Below is a list of
grasses that make excellent cut flowers:
For dried arrangements the stems should be cut when
the blossom is full but before the seeds are fully developed
(so they do not drop off). That way you prevent the
need for a fixative.
Try mixing substantial blossoms such as Miscanthus
with the fine ones of Molinia or Panicum.
Panicum is wonderful cut as a fresh flower and mixed
in a vase with Phlox paniculata. Then when the Phlox
is finished simply allow the Panicum to dry for winter
Ever think of using some of these stems for outside
decoration? Tie a bundle of Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'
stems to a post. Miscanthus and Calamagrostis look wonderful
added to your outdoor winter arrangements. My favorite
combination is Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster' with rosehips.
Bringing Container Grasses in for the Winter
I have 3 magnificent container specimens of Pennisetum
'Rubrum'. Jim gave me the following advice on how to
keep them over the winter:
- remove the blossoms
- do not cut back until spring (cutting
back will stimulate new growth and that is difficult
for the plants at this time of the year)
- keep on the dry side - not bone dry, but do not
- no fertilizer till spring
- they need very little light - placement near a basement
window would be fine
Q: What do you call a grumpy and short tempered