Propagating Ornamental Grasses

Primarily, ornamental grasses are propagated by two means - their seeds and by root division. However, it is also possible to grow a number of species of ornamental grasses from the plantlets that appear on specific grasses. It may be noted here that root division is the sole method to propagate ornamental grasses consistently as well as to perpetuate the distinct attributes of any plant. Therefore, it is advisable that you should propagate the named species of ornamental grasses only be means of root division with a view to guarantee homogeny. In fact, several cultivars of ornamental grasses are not got in their true form or characteristic when propagated by their seeds. Hence, it is possible that a specific seedling of a particular ornamental grass will not be alike its parent. However, majority of the ornamental grasses propagated by their seeds are practically similar to this form.

Undoubtedly, after the succulents, the ornamental grasses are among the plant families that are very easy to propagate. A number of species, such as the Japanese Blood Grass, may be propagated by root division to obtain very successful results. However, it definitely takes some additional sweat.


It is worth mentioning here that most varieties of ornamental grasses are generally propagated from their seeds. The seeds of ornamental grasses may be sown directly into the flower garden or indoors in a container and transplanted outdoors afterward. Everything related to propagating ornamental grasses from their seeds, including the pace of germination, period, and success percentage as well as the possibility of growing them from their seeds is open to undertaking experiments. However, there are several species of ornamental grasses which cannot be propagated by their seeds, while there are some others that are quite costly to grow from seeds.

In most cases, the seeds of ornamental grasses are very delicate and even the least velocity breeze are able to carry them to great distances. On the other hand, seeds of other ornamental grasses may be sown directly in the garden provided they are drilled into the soil or just placed under the surface of the soil.

Normally, the grasses that can be propagated from their seeds take about 10 to 20 days to germinate. At times, the foliage of these grasses emerges just three to five days of sowing the seeds. On other occasions, it may possibly take as long as 100 days for the seeds to germinate. There are a number of ornamental grass species that have a preference for some type of stratification before sowing their seeds. In the case of ornamental grasses, basically two methods are applied to treat the seeds prior to sowing - either steeped in warm water before sowing, or chilled in moist sand prior to planting. In case you are experimenting with the seeds, it is advisable that you use a small number of them instead of making use of the total crop. Provided you do not possess much knowledge regarding sowing the seeds directly in the garden, it is always prudent to begin planting them indoors in containers and later transplant them outside after the seedlings have established themselves properly.

In spite of the obvious shortcomings, propagating ornamental grasses from their seeds may be a lot worthwhile as well as thrilling. Several fine varieties as well as cultivars of ornamental grasses that are available currently were actually seedling variants. In the event of growing all varieties of ornamental grass by means of root division, we would actually miss a chance to know about the individual species that are yet to be discovered. A number of ornamental grasses are highly inconsistent when grown from their seeds. However, there are other varieties that fairly resemble their parents. Usually, it is not always important that the young plant ought to be precisely the same as their parents. Several ecologists as well as botanists are of the view that plants propagated from their seeds give rise to a more robust plant community in the garden in comparison to the vast populace of any solitary cultivar. These experts are of the view that ornamental grasses propagated from seeds are more resilient and have the aptitude to combat diseases, insects as well as ecological changes in a much enhanced manner compared to those grown by root division or those propagated asexually.

Provided you are growing the grasses outdoors, it is best to sow them when the soil temperature begins to rise during the spring. It is advisable that you sow the seeds quite early in the season and cover them frivolously with soil. It needs to be noted that the spacing of the plant differs depending on the species of ornamental grass you are growing. In order to be sure regarding the appropriate spacing of the plants, you should check the instructions on the packet in which the seeds come. If you are growing the plants indoors, it is advisable that you cultivate them in even containers, starting from four to six weeks prior to transplanting them outdoors.

A number of ornamental grass species like Stipa arundinacea or Carex pendula self-seed themselves fast to the extent that they usually turn out to be invasive. However, there are many other varieties of ornamental grasses that do not germinate so easily. In the case of such grasses, you need to pick the properly matured flower heads very soon prior to the seeds become full grown and subsequently season the seeds by keeping them indoors in brown paper bags for some time. These seeds may be stored for sowing in spring or you may also sow them fresh when the temperature is around 50°F (10°C).


For propagation by means of root division, the roots of dissimilar ornamental grasses are divided at dissimilar times. For instance, it may be quite easy to divide the grass culms manually or by using a knife, a saw or clippers to separate the roots using some force. It is possible to propagate grasses having rhizomes (underground stems) by means of growing new plants from small pieces of the rhizome. On the other hand, grasses having stolons (runners on the surface of the ground) may be propagated by planting the small fractions of the stolons. When you are propagating ornamental grasses by means of root division always ensure that the newly divided grasses do not dry out. You need to shield them from the desiccating winds as well as the hot sun.

As aforementioned, the most effective way to propagate ornamental grasses is doing so by root division. However, there are certain guidelines that you need to follow while undertaking root divisions. First and foremost, all root divisions ought to have a minimum of three culms (stems). You may grow the divided roots in pots or cell packs. It is important to note that grasses that are grown in little containers have the propensity to desiccate very fast owing to lack of moisture in the soil. In fact, you may also directly pot the divisions as well as liners, particularly of the bigger or belligerent species, for instance Pancium and Miscanthus in containers where they will be growing permanently. Such pots or containers should have a minimum size of one to two gallons. During the time of planting include a six-month controlled-release fertilizer in the pot along with the soil. It may be noted that the growth of the grasses during the later part of summer may result in making the plants top heavy.

You may also think of including Bonzi media saturates at rates of 1 and 2 ppm, since it has been found that they are helpful in regulating the height of the pampas grass grown in pots. While the production of majority of the ornamental grasses is significantly for a longer period compared to the annuals, it has been seen that robust grasses have a tendency to grow into large commercial plant following growth of just 12 weeks.

Apart from being the most effective mode of propagating ornamental grasses, root division is also a major means to augment the supply of grasses. However, it is important to undertake root divisions at the appropriate time of the year.


There are a number of ornamental grass species that can be propagated from their stem cutting or some other part of the plant. Grasses that take the shape of dense culms (stems) or canes usually take root when their stem cuttings are planted. For instance, sugarcane (botanical name Saccharum officinarum) is one grass that takes root readily when the cuttings of the cane are planted. In addition, cuttings of grass species, such as fountain grass (Pennisetum spp.), lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) and maiden grass (Miscanthus spp.) also grow very easily from their cuttings. As the root division method is extremely simple, thus far, there has been very little experiment with propagating grasses by means of cuttings. Nevertheless, the number of scientific studies concerning this subject is on the rise and latest success stories are being reported continually. In fact, grasses are being rooted using as well as without hormonal applications.


In addition to propagation by seeds, root division and cuttings, a number of ornamental grasses as well as sedges like the umbrella sedges (botanical name Cyperus spp.) can be grown from the buds in the terminal bracts. New plants will emerge from such plantlets. In order to grow such ornamental grasses from their plantlets, just cut the terminal heads and keep them floated overturned in water. For the plantlets to produce roots and develop into new individual plants rapidly, ensure that you make intense heat and humidity available. Soon you will find new plants growing from the axils of the terminal buds. Subsequently, take out the new plants from water and plant them in the soil outdoors or in containers.

Some ornamental grasses are known to be viviparous, denoting that these plants, instead of producing flowers, form on their flower stalks. In other words, these plants produce seeds which germinate on the plants themselves. The 'Fairy's Joke' tufted hairgrass (botanical name Deschampsia caespitosa var. vivipara 'Fairy's Joke') is an ideal example of the viviparous variety of ornamental grass. This plant produces flower stalks that are weighed down with plantlets. It is worth mentioning here that it is not unusual to find the sporadic odd plantlet on majority of the ornamental grasses.

Ornamental grasses
The families of grasses
How grasses grow
The life of grasses
Growing ornamental grasses
Growing grasses in containers
Maintaining ornamental grasses
Grasses' pests and diseases


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