How to Grow Canada Wildrye


Canada wildrye, native to Missouri, is an ornamental bunch grass. It reaches heights of 3 to 5 feet and is an ornamental well into winter, even after the grass itself has died. Small green flowers adorn tall spikes which sway in the breeze attractively. Planted primarily in prairies, it is also suited to border and bed planting in the home landscape. It does self-seed readily, so is not suited to mixed planting with other plant varieties and must be maintained yearly so it doesn't overtake neighboring beds.

Step 1

Prepare the seed 2 months before expected planting in either late fall or early spring. Wrap the seeds in a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 60 days before planting.

Step 2

Remove weeds from the planting area completely and loosen the top 4 inches of soil with a tiller. Remove any large rocks or other debris from the area.

Step 3

Sow seeds ½ inch deep and space the plants 5 inches apart. Sow three to five seeds to a planting hole as not all seeds will germinate.

Step 4

Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet through spring and summer. Allow plants to die back naturally in late summer.

Step 5

Apply a phosphorus fertilizer every spring beginning in the second year. Don't apply fertilizer the first year.

Step 6

Remove all the dead wildrye plant material in spring before the plant begins actively growing. Mow or cut down with shears.

Tips and Warnings

  • Weeds will quickly choke out Canada wildrye. Use a broadleaf herbicide or weed small stands of wildrye by hand regularly. Do not cut down dead plants with controlled burns as this may damage the young plants as they come out of dormancy.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towel
  • Plastic bag
  • Tiller
  • Fertilizer
  • Lawnmower
  • Shears


  • Missouri Botanical Garden
  • USDA
Keywords: Canada wildrye, ornamental grass, prairie tallgrass

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.