Ornamental grasses offer homeowners a low maintenance, dramatic plant for use in a variety of planting situations. These decorative grasses look beautiful standing along or when grouped with evergreens, flowers or shrubs. Ornamental grasses can be purchased from a variety of places or divided from a gardening friend to create a new plant. Some select grasses can be grown successfully from seed for future transplant into the garden.
Garden Centers and Nurseries
Garden centers sell ornamental plants in pots ranging from small 4 inch-pots to gallon containers. Smaller varieties of grasses such as fescue and liriope can be purchased in small containers for use as borders and accent plants in the landscape. Smaller plants will flesh out in 2 to 3 years to become a solid perennial about 1 foot in diameter. Larger grasses purchased from nurseries arrive as established plants with full foliage and in some cases, blooms showing as plumed stalks on the plant. Choosing a garden center as a source for new ornamental grasses provides a wide variety of grasses for use in the home landscape.
Dividing Existing Plants
If you've been coveting your neighbor's ornamental grass, make sure to pay him a visit in the spring. Gardeners prune ornamental grasses in the spring and this trimming allows the inner portion of the plant to receive more light. Dividing grasses in the spring presents the optimum time to move these often heavy, unruly plants. New shoots should be appearing at the base of the plant. Division requires placing a shovel into the center of the plant and stepping down firmly to chop the root mass in half. Remove one portion and replant the remainder.
Larger masses can be divided into many plants for use around the landscape. Most gardeners divide ornamental grasses when the plant becomes too large for its location. Older plants will benefit greatly from a trimming and division with renewed growth and vigor.
Growing Grasses from Seed
Adventurous gardeners might choose to start grasses from seed instead of purchasing more mature plants. Ornamental grass seed can be purchased online or at garden centers. Start grass seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost to allow seed germination and plant maturity. Grasses can be transplanted outside after the final frost of the year. Protect these tender seedlings by creating a rich organic-based soil bed. Monitor soil moisture conditions until the plant becomes firmly established, after one or two seasons.