5 tips for getting the most from annual grasses

5 tips for getting the most from annual grasses

Annual ornamental grasses offer an easy way to add unique seasonal texture to the garden. Here’s how to get them looking their best.

5 tips for getting the most from annual grasses
5 tips for getting the most from annual grasses

1. Pick your pattern

  • Plant annual ornamental grasses in hedgelike rows to divide areas of your landscape.
  • To fill gaps in beds, mass them in informal drifts alongside perennial flowers.
  • Line them up along paths or use them as accents to add height to container plantings.
  • Annual grasses are also ideal as a seasonal screen. They provide a “rest” for the eye in a busy landscape of flowers
  • Grasses can even work as an attractive, temporary tenant in spots where your landscape plans are still unsettled.
  • If you’re grass to use the flower heads in fresh or dried arrangements, any sunny spot in a cutting garden or vegetable plot will do.
  • Try using tall, upright ornamental strains of wheat or corn as textural accents in a summer flower garden.

2. Plant them in the best temperatures

There are two good reasons to start seeds of true ornamental grasses indoors about eight weeks before your last spring frost:

  1. The seeds germinate best at 21°C.
  2. Grasses grow best under cooler conditions, with temperatures between 10°C and 16°C.

3. Start them off in containers

  • Plant seeds 0.3 centimetres (a shade under a quarter-inch) deep in individual containers or flats.
  • Transplant outdoors when the seedlings are five centimetres (two inches) tall with several leaf blades.

4. Know the specific needs of your grasses

  • Ornamental wheat varieties can be sown in early spring as soon as the soil is workable. Plant seeds about eight centimetres (three inches) apart.
  • Deer adore winter wheat, so cover young plants securely with bird netting. Tuck bars of deodorant soap around plantings to deter them, or purchase a deer repellent.
  • Striped corn is a warm-weather crop. Wait until the last frost has passed to plant seeds 25 centimetres (10 inches) apart outdoors.

5. Give them the right conditions to flourish

  • All ornamental grasses prefer full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Prior to planting, work a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, into the soil at the rate recommended on the package label.

With graceful, blade-like leaves and flowery heads, annual grasses are an essential part of a beautiful garden. As with all plants, be sure to put them where they’ll grow best, and take care of them throughout the season.

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