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Can grasses survive teh winter in large pots?

Posted by hurlee 6 (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 3, 05 at 8:17

I have a gravel driveway which leads to dirdectly into my house(3 car garage under house). SO I would like to put big pots in between the garage door to give some life and green. Could grasses survive the winter in pots? I was looking for a grasss around 5 feet. Maybe miscanthus morning light, what is the mature height on those? with perennials mixed in for color.


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RE: Can grasses survive teh winter in large pots?

  • Posted by Donn_ Z 7, seaside,NY (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 4, 05 at 9:30

There are probably at least hundreds of grass varieties that you could grow in pots. Even if they aren't winter hardy, you can grow them as annuals, and mix them up every year. I'm starting several from seed this winter, and will certainly use some of them in pots. Purple Majesty Millet is one that I have high hopes for. I fancy a nice pot of it with Dusty Miller around it's base in the container.

The book says that 'Morning Light' reaches 4-5' in foliage, and 5-6' in bloom.

RE: Can grasses survive teh winter in large pots?

Yes, you can grow grasses in containers and expect them to survive winter, especially in zone 6, although clay pots likely will not.

Generally, warm-season grasses do better than cool-season ones, but not exclusively. There are several genera that grow tall and are are attractive when grown in containers, but some shorter ones, like Helictotrichon (blue Oat Grass), are just as attractive and can be grown in pots less than 2' in diameter.

Just remember that drainage is very important. Other horticultural requirements (light and moisture) must be met as well. The link below will give you a list of grasses proven to grow well in containers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grasses in containers


Sorry, hurlee, I got my cool and warm seasons reversed: COOL-season grasses do well in pots, I know, and begin growth in early (rather than late) Spring, a consideration when planting primarily for decorative purposes. The link I gave in previous reply will help.

RE: Can grasses survive teh winter in large pots?

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 7, 05 at 10:30

I've had bad luck with warm season grasses (Miscanthus, Pennisetum) in pots outdoors. They need very good drainage to get through the winter. My problem was likely that the soil I used was too peaty and didn't have enough grit or other drainage enhancing material in it. Grasses such as Miscanthus don't like cold, wet feet I discovered.

BruMeta's advice about cool season grasses is good. I've had similar results. Hakone (Japanese forest) grass does well in outdoor pots in zone 6, although its leaves die back at the first hard frost. Some sedges will stay evergreen or semi-evergreen in outdoor containers.

I also have a Carex "Ice Dancer" that looks great even though it's gone through several snow storms, nights in the teens and low 20s, and cold windy days. It's in a double pot, meaning I put its container into a larger one so that there's a space between them. That provides outer insulation. You can stuff sphagnum moss, straw or other insulator between the gaps (including the bottom).

RE: Can grasses survive teh winter in large pots?

thanks for the info everyone, very helpful! jody

RE: Can grasses survive teh winter in large pots?

Alak! I lost my second Helictotrichon (Blue Oat Grass, a cool-season grower planted in a 2' iron pot) this winter. Although this pot is large with bottom and side holes and its lower third filled with No. 2 gravel, I think it was due to poor drainage or freeze-out, but I'm not sure. How did you do? (I hope my earlier response did not steer you down any wrong paths.)

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