seeds or plants?

newinterest(z5)January 10, 2005

Hi everyone...first time user. I'm new to this whole world of gardening. After having no interest in anything green my first 35 years I've become strangely attracted to the ornamental grasses everytime I walk through a garden center. I've decided to act upon my urges and this spring start my first garden. I've been studying grass types, zones, ect., and have started looking at websites for seeds and plants. Actually that is my question, should I begin with more expensive plants or the cheaper seeds? I've heard grasses grow alot in just one summer. Thanks for any advice you can give!

Sincerely, Brian

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Pudge 2b

Do you have specific grasses in mind? Many cultivars are not available from seed and you'd have to start off with plants.

I haven't found grass from seed to be particularly fast growing, certainly not in the first year. The second year they put on more growth and in the third year usually come into their own. Purchased plants, though, can put on a lot of growth in one season.

Another thing to remember is grasses which are easy from seed are going to be easy to reseed in your yard. As an example, Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca) is very easy from seed, germinates readily and looks like a pretty good plant by the end of the first growing season. It also reseeds freely after it's third year and then you have to contend with the hundreds of seedlings. Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon semperviren) on the other hand, is possible but not easy from seed nor will you be bothered with seeding out. Then there are Blue Fescue cultivars which are sterile.

You don't necessarily have to start off with large purchased grasses - there are plugs available if you want several of one specific type of grass.

Growing from seed requires some amount of patience and the understanding that they're not going to be knock-your-socks-off gorgeous a few months down the road. It's a satisfying experience but not if you're looking for impact the first year.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 6:52AM
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jeffyg65(7)

Hi... I would like some help finding a source for buying either seed or plugs for Blue Oat Grass. I live in zone 7 and if anyone has some feed back on how well this grows in my area, I would appreciate it.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 10:22AM
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dawgie(z7NC)

I've developed a newfound interest in ornamental grasses the past couple years after the deer destroyed many of my hostas, daylilies and other perennials. Grasses grow on you, and I now have more than a dozen varieties.

Blue fescue is a good starter grass because it is inexpensive and easy to grow. You can buy seeds at places like Target or garden shops and it is easy to grow that way, but don't expect sizable plants until the second year. A lot of nurseries and big box stores also sell blue fescue in small 2-3" pots for very reasonably prices, $2-3 per plant.

Another grass that is easy to grow from seed is Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolia or something like that). I bought my plants in 1-gallon pots last spring and they reseeded heavily -- so much that I've spent a fair amount of time weeding the bed where they are planted. I've transplanted some of these seedlings into pots so I can start some more plants.

Most other grasses that I have found are best grown from divisions (if you can find someone to give you some) or just buying small plants. You can find a lot of OGs for good prices online at www.santarosagardens.com and other places. If you like medium-large grasses, a good one to try is Miscanthus sinensis "Adagio," which has been the best growing OG I have tried. I bought a single 3-gallon pot at Home Depot early last spring for about $5. I divided it into two plants, and both divisions grew very rapidly to about 2-3' across and high in the first season. Morning Light is another excellent Miscanthus variety.

I had one Blue Oat Grass in my yard but it did not make it through the winter. It needs very good drainage and apparently didn't get that in my heavy clay soil. It is a very attractive grass, though, if it grows well in your area.

Finally, the big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot have started carrying more OGs in recent years and you can often find nice varieties for reasonably prices. Eg, the HD and Lowes near me are now selling Karl Foerster reed grass and purple fountain grass (which is an annual) for about $3-4 per pot.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 8:39AM
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