How to Grow Ribbon Grass


Ribbon grass is an excellent ground cover for those areas of your property where nothing else will grow. A hardy, tolerant plant that's suitable for just about any sun condition, ribbon grass has been a favorite of gardeners for generations for its tall green stalks with lighter green and pink-tinged edging, as well as its white flowers. Hardy in zones 4-9, ribbon grass can be an invasive plant if grown in full sun, but propagation can be easily controlled if planted in mostly shady areas of the garden.

Step 1

Choose your ribbon grass location wisely. If planted in full sun, it can quickly spread into lawns and take over beds. Ribbon grass grows less prolific depending on the sun levels it receives, so shady areas with a little sun are best.

Step 2

Test your soil for good drainage if you're unsure. If needed, add sand, gypsum or lime to help improve the drainage of your intended space.

Step 3

Dig up the whole area where you are planting ribbon grass. If planting more than one plant, cultivate the whole space, making your dirt good and loose instead of digging individual holes--this will also improve the drainage and give the root system plenty of room to expand and grow.

Step 4

Plant ribbon grass 18 to 24 inches apart or between other plants as a textural filler.

Step 5

Mulch the area to help retain moisture. Since ribbon grass grows so quickly and in such a thick mat, continued mulching will not be necessary.

Tips and Warnings

  • Ribbon grass is an evergreen perennial, so that means it never really stops growing. It has no dormant stage and spreads quickly. To keep the rhizome from spreading past your intended area, provide a border in your garden. One way to do this is to plant your ribbon grass in the garden within a plastic, bottomless pot.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Ribbon grass
  • Sand, lime or gypsum, if needed
  • Mulch


  • Ribbon Grass
  • Types of Ornamental Grasses

Who Can Help

  • Plant Detail: Ribbon Grass (Phalaris)
Keywords: ribbon grass, ground covers, garden filler plants

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University to study education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills reusing, recycling and reinventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.