Jump Start Grasses Growing Early in Cold Spring Weather

deep_roots(5a IN)March 14, 2006

Ornamental Grasses can reach knee high in Zone 5a by May, with most blooming by the end of August. I would like to jump start a few stands in hopes of enjoying blooms earlier in the season.

I have considered Water Walls, Solar Caps, Floating Row Covers, and Black Plastic to warm the air and immediate soil surface in the early Spring around April. I have considered watering with warm water to penetrate and deeply warm the roots.

Has anyone been successful at forcing ornamental grass to sprout up earlier or bloom sooner?

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Pudge 2b

As a zone 2 gardener, I am constantly looking for methods to get plants growing faster, but honestly, I find it much easier to find plants that prefer the cooler season temps for early growth and blooms. I just took a look at some of my photos from last year and Deschampsia Schottland was blooming in my yard in early June, and Deschampsia Bronzelschier began in mid-June. I would think in zone 5A that would equal blooms in May? They're not giant sized plants, but with blooms look pretty decent at about 3'. This is a later photo, probably late July, but the blondest clumps are Schottland, and the blooms of Bronzelschier the first clump on the left. You can see the taller Karl Forester in the background. The pudgy heads drooping over in the front of the bed are Melica ciliata. I have some warm season grasses in there as well.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 1:19PM
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deep_roots(5a IN)

Wow! Great photos and information from Zone 2/3. Personal page with the raised beds is very fascinating. I believe the raised beds provide a little extra warming, and the tip to use cool season grasses is a good one. Miscanthus Nippon blooms in the first part of July. Calamagrostis Karl Forester blooms around the second week of June. Pennisetum Oriental blooms at the end of May. As I am trying to get blooms from Spring through Fall, I will likely use some early bloomers. Otherwise, I will likely experiment with my larger specimens of Miscanthus in hopes of finding a technique to get them up and growing sooner.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 11:45AM
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Keep us posted on your progress, please. It sounds like a fascinating experiment. I didn't search hard, but found no reference at all to 'forcing' ornamental grasses. Maybe some greenhouse growers will see the thread, and pipe in with their experiences.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 12:13PM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

I see two potential problems with your experiment.
Forcing for earlier growth may result in frost damage. New grass shoots & leaves are particularly suseptable to late frosts.
Problem two,grasses that bloom earlier in the season often = grasses that produce viable seed. Not good :o(

Personally, I am happier with the later blooming varieties. Warm season grasses for me are things of the autumn & more special to me because they bloom when little else does .....

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 9:33PM
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