Help Me start growing Ornamental Grasses!

swede1234(4)March 3, 2013

Here's a message I posted before... only got one response. Hoping to get more help, here...

Hi, I'm just a very humble beginner... Am really attracted lately to the contrasts of ornamental grasses mixed in with flowers...

I dont have lots of space & live in mostly shady area, so haven't invested in a lot of seeds... However, I have grabbed the tops of a number of local and neighbor's plants.... What do I need to do to start these beauties indoors? (I do start my tomatoes with grow lights in winter here)

My concerns:

About when should I start? Last frost is about 1rst week May..

Unsure if these are perennials... Suspect they are.

Winter here today is 35 below windchill...

***! How to extract seeds from these tops, planting soil, fertilizer moisture, etc?

Do I need a lot of light? I live mostly in a woods... Perennial garden gets sun from 10:00-11:00 AM to about 5-6 PM in summer...

Is there a seed exchange like the tomatoes for different or hardier varieties?

What considerations should I be worried about? Is there problems with grasses taking over garden?

Anything else you can think of to help this puzzled old guy...

Thanks, "May trouble always be a stranger to you! ...or at least only a nodding acquaintence!"


Also: I'd like to add... can I start them in pots indoors like I do my tomatoes, or do I just wait until spring and sprinkle the seeds on the ground where I intend to grow them... I just want a few clumps of grasses placed amongst my perennials... Thanks!

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I'll start with dealing with ornamental grass seeds. I have no idea what you have, or even if the seeds were ready to be harvested when you plucked the tops.

Here's a Miscanthus sinensis seed head:

As you can see, the seeds are tiny. You basically worry them out of their carriers within the seed head.

This one might be easier to illustrate how it's done.

The hairy critter in the upper left is a complete seed carrier from Pennisetum alopecuriodes (Fountain Grass). The lower right is the seed alone.

This is Carex grayii:

Carex muskingumensis:

Once you get the seeds sorted, you can start them indoors if you like, or outside, later in the year. If you do it outside, you'll have to protect the seeds from birds.

Start them by sowing them in bunches, so you'll get good-sized clumps of grass. Cover them with a thin layer of soil and keep them moist...just like starting Tomatoes. Harden off the seedlings before planting them out..well after your last frost.

Some grasses need a lot of sun, others not as much. Some will self sow, some will not.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 11:26AM
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This is what the seed heads of Chasmanthium latifolium look like:

And this is how the seeds break out from them:

This is Lagurus ovatus (Bunny Tails) annual which does well from seeds:

The white puffy thing is the seed head as it shows on the plant.

You should google all these grass names, to see what the mature and blooming grasses look like.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 11:33AM
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