Transplanting maiden grass in fall...

zonedout5September 23, 2008

I have a large clump of purple maiden grass I would like to move now (september so it's in full bloom). I realize I probably should wait until spring but am impatient as so many plants I'd like to put in this space are on sale now. any advice on how to do it, or if it's a waste of time, ie it won't survive? should i cut it down first or move intact? I'm in Chicago (zone5)

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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

Fall is not the ideal time to move grasses especially in zone 5. You probably have less than a 50/50 chance of it surviving the move. If you were having major construction done I would say "go for it". BUT, in you case, I would recommend tucking your new plants somewhere else in the garden for the winter & then shift everything around in the spring. Why not get the new spot ready for your grass & then put the new plants there for the time being???

If you feel you MUST move it I would cut it back by half & get as much of the root ball as possible. Water well up until we get a freeze & consider feeding with a root fertilizer.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 11:43AM
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terrene(5b MA)

About 3 years back, my sister was selling her house and moving to the west coast. She offered some plants from the old house, so my mother and I went up to her house over Thanksgiving weekend (!) and dug up 2 of her 'Gracillimus'. They were huge. We cut them down and hacked them apart. We needed to use the pruning saw to divide them. I took 3 divisions, my mother 2, and we left a couple in place.

I planted them in the front of the house along the street. Generally sandy, dry soil, and exposed to harsh winter winds. I watered them some, but didn't really pamper them. Two of the 3 clumps made it and are now large and full. One is even growing impressively in mostly shade. The 3rd didn't make it through the winter. They were slow to establish, but probably would establish faster if they were pampered a bit more than I did.

I now know that Miscanthus sinensis is a warm season grass and that late fall is NOT the recommended time to plant or transplant these. But, my experience has been that they are rugged plants, and more shade and drought tolerant than one might think.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 3:19PM
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hlollar(5 CO)

I've never had luck planting or dividing ornamental grasses in the fall. They need longer to develop their roots. I would suggest wait until spring.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 9:00AM
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How about planting stock (adagio, silberfeder, autumn light, and morning light) that was in a container? I grew liners out this summer and planted two weeks ago in zone 7. Should I be worried? We have had a light frost on two occasions. The plants were in bloom when I placed them in the ground. What do you think?


    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 8:49PM
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I've given up planting containerized Miscanthus in the fall, after having almost uniform falure.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 8:48AM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

Depends on the winter but I wouldn't worry too much ...
Two years ago I got some mega bargins on grasses at a local nursery. 2 gallon pots of Miscanthus for $2. each. Oh, did I mention? This sale happened at the beginning of November & I am gardening in Zone 5. I just plopped them all in the veggie garden. Planted them right up to the rims of their pots - Every single one survived!
If you have problems with frost heaving in your area I would mulch - otherwise your grasses will probably do just fine.

ps... I dug a 2 year old seedling Miscanthus last week (got as much root ball as possible) AND I have moved the poor thing 1.5 zones north - It will be interesting to see if that one survives :o)
I also dug & moved north 6 large chunks of Panicum 'Rehbraun' - I have my fingers crossed for their survival!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 10:44AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I got a bunch of grasses at bargain prices last November - the local nursery was selling perennials and grasses at $3 and $5 each over Veterans weekend. Included numerous warm season garsses - Miscanthus purpurascens, Panicum virgatum cultivars, Sporobolis heterolepis, etc. as well as a few cool season grasses (Calamagrostis Overdam and El dorado).

I went ahead and planted the cool season grasses. Then did the same as Achnatherum with the warm-season - sunk them pots and all into a little veggie garden (which has excellent drainage). They survived just fine and grew beautifully this summer. We had persistent snow cover through last winter which protected them, but you could also mulch with leaves if necessary.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 7:30PM
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