Hardiness of zebra grass?

vickima(z5 MA)May 28, 2007

Last spring I planted two miscanthus - a silberfeder and a zebrinus. The silberfeder has several inches of new growth but the zebrinus appears dead. They are planted in the same general area although the silberfeder does get a bit more sun. Bluestem and others say zebra grass is hardy to zone 5 and I'm in 5/6 so I thought it would make it. Does anyone else have experience with zebra grass in this zone (I'm in north central Mass)? Is there another grass that is easy and reliable with similar height and spread? And last but not least, is there any chance it's still alive?

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blackswamp_girl(6a NEOhio)

I'm in Zone 5/6 and my zebra grass made it through the winter fine. My aunt and uncle (in a solid Zone 5, NW Ohio) gave me the original and had theirs for years. I think that they warned me the Zebrinus might be late to come up, especially the first year, so I'll email them to see where theirs is if you want.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 9:38PM
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vickima(z5 MA)

Thanks blackswamp_girl. There's not any sign of life from this grass, so considering it's nearly June and has been very warm, I'm pretty sure it's a goner. I lost two butterfly bushes in the same bed although they are supposed to be hardy here too. Someone has told me that you need "perfect drainage" for them, and they are planted within a few feet of a problem gutter that dropped water nearby. I wonder if the zebra grass was too wet over the winter?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 1:21PM
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blackswamp_girl(6a NEOhio)

Hmm... the wetness I don't know about, but I can tell you that my uncle's grass is already up so I'm thinking yours may be a goner. :(

Butterfly bushes are supposedly hardy here, but I know a lot of people around here lose them over the winter too. Someone suggested not cutting them back until spring, but I have no idea whether that will help or not.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 10:28PM
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vickima(z5 MA)

Thanks. I've decided to replace the grass and give it another try this year. We had a really weird winter, so I'm hoping better conditions may help it get established. I've been talking to a lot of people about butterfly bushes, and it seems they are cold hardy, but finicky - for some they come back reliably every year and others tend to lose them. I'm going to give them one more try too.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 8:28AM
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I had 2 large stads of zebra grass that had been in 3-4 yrs. Both died last winter.
I had purchased a zebra grass 'strictus' which is different than what I had and it survived the winter. I may have had a too wet issue- our springs are like that before the thaw.

Anyway. I'd say go with 'strictus' if you haven't already purchased it.
I spend more $ replacing grasses then any other type of plant here. Shrubs and trees would actually be cheaper!


    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 6:35AM
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I've heard many, many examples of plants lost this winter within their hardiness zones. Many areas had a very warm month followed by a very cold month. Not a good recipe for winter success.

Strictus has been shown to possibly be a full zone hardier than Zebrinus, so I'd agree that may be a better choice.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 10:49PM
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vickima(z5 MA)

It's good to know about the strictus, but I didn't see those messages until I had replaced the grass with a variegatus, figuring I'd try something a little different. I'm new to gardening and have really tried to pick plants that are hardy and low maintenance, but I guess with the wacky winter we had, all bets are off.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 8:09AM
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Th eextension office at U of Minn did a study on cold hardy grasses. I've found grasses on this list to be a sure bet for cold hardiness.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cold Hardy Grasses

    Bookmark   June 10, 2007 at 9:03AM
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This problem is the reason I checked the forum today! We have a very small pond, and last year I put in 5 grasses, a combo of pampas and zebra. All of them did great, growing like crazy, so I figured this year they would do well again. We had a typical NE Ohio winter/spring - meaning "anything goes"! I work for a school district, and it was very mild through Jan., then in Feb. we had 4 "cold days", a decent March, then it snowed again in April. Anyway, the pampas came back, and is growing at a slow but steady rate. The zebra grass looks the same as it did all winter - light tan/beige crunchy clumps. Since I'm new to these grasses, I was afraid to dig out/replace them, just in case this was just a quirk of zebra grass. However, from what I'm reading in this forum, if there is no new green showing by now.......yes, I think I hear Taps playing softly........

Thanks for all the info. in response to the original post on this topic. These forums have provided invaluable information, helping me to properly care for many of my flowers. Thanks to everyone!

Stephanie in Ohio

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 9:36AM
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blackswamp_girl(6a NEOhio)

Stephanie, you've got to be close to me (I'm in Lakewood) so... yes, I'm afraid that IS "Taps" that you hear playing. My zebra grass is almost 18in tall already.

Grassguy was right about weird things being lost, btw. I have been working part-time at a local garden center this spring and have helped a bunch of people replacing their heucheras. Not the new, fancy cultivars, either, but the plain old green-leafed coral bells. No frost heaving (which you might expect) did these in... they just died. Weird winter.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 1:50AM
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leslie197(z5 MI)

I do not mulch or protect my Strictus in anyway over the winter. It is planted in heavy wet clay in an open area in full sun in my zone 5 backyard. It was planted in 2003 and has come back bigger each year. Strictus comes up pretty late (cold clay will do that) & it does not always bloom for me because of our short season. It is always very erect & unbothered by snow, if we get any, which we didn't last season.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 4:22PM
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