JOHN’S JOURNAL

How to Look After Your Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses have taken a resurgence in popularity these last few years, after being a very fashionable plant in the early 2000’s during the ‘Groundforce’ era they made their way into most people’s gardens, and the same again now. They are a great way to introduce a different texture to your planting, helping give a natural feel and also giving relief amongst your other flowering plants, but how do you look after them and stop them getting filled with their dead old leaves?

The answer is simple, all grasses need cutting back, whether they are deciduous ones that die down in the Autumn, and more importantly the evergreen ones that hold their leaves up throughout the year. At this time of year now things have begun growing, it’s time to give them a haircut. Now your deciduous ones are pretty straight forward as all the leaves will be on the floor around the plant so just remove them and cut off any stray stems that remain, take them back down to 2 inches from the ground. Now with your evergreen ones the same applies, and yes even if they look perfectly fresh and green you still need to do it! The reason being is at this time of year the plant is beginning to send up a flush of new foliage, so if you don’t remove the old foliage now it will be left there, starting to die back at the same time as the new growth elongates working its way up the plant, and then in the summer your grasses will be filled with lots of fresh new growth tarnished with the dead old leaves which are still attached and now muddled in, making them look somewhat unappealing and tatty!

So get the secateurs out and cut them back down to where you see the tuffet of growth low down, don’t cut them back too far otherwise you will go into the heart of the plant, go to just above where the stems thicken out and loose their colour. Yes it seems to be a bit cruel and your grasses will look like they’ve had a very hard hair cut, but after a feed with Vitax Q4 around the edge you will find that they will spring back to life looking as fresh as the day you bought them! 

So there you have it, pretty simple really but it all comes down to the time of year which you do it and also how you do it, time to get chopping and also make a note in the diary for next year so you don’t forget, and if you haven’t got any grasses in the garden then you should really consider working them into your planting schemes this year to add some relief and a natural feel to your planting.

 

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Here you can send in and find out the answers to those gardening problems

 

Can I divide my grasses?

Most varieties can be divided but you need to leave them 3 years to clump up first. The best time of year to divide them is now when you give them a haircut and you will slice them up using a spade or you can cut them up with an old saw. Then replant, water well and give them a feed.

What’s the grass called with blue leaves?

The Festucas are a beautiful group of grasses with steely blue foliage, they also flower during May/June with many strawy coloured stems with small bunches of oat like flowers. They look impressive when repeat planted with topiary and you can also use them around the base of a tree in a pot for evergreen interest.

Do I cut back my ponytail grass now?

Stipa tenuissima has to be one of my favourite grasses and it’s great for repeat planting through a perennial planting scheme to give it a very natural feel. We have it planted down by the Croft Pod at the nursery and it looks great all year round. Now is also the time to give it a trim and then the new leaves will appear and it will be filled with flowers again from August onwards, then it holds its mound of strawy foliage throughout the Winter months, again looks great when repeat planted with Topiary balls.

 

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

 

Plant of The Week

Magnolia ‘Stellata’

A perfect plant which signals the start of Spring covered in masses of white flowers with many upwards facing petals. It’s very compact in habit and perfect for sun or shade. Great as a feature plant mixed in with other shrubs to give early interest and colour.