Frequently Asked Ornamental Grass Questions

Don't see your answer in the questions below?  Try this article from Paul Pilon of Perennial Solutions for more tips.

How do I handle ornamental grass?

Upon Receipt: If plants are still frozen upon receipt, thaw them gradually in a cool area. Keep plants covered before potting so they do not dry out. If roots do dry out or are dry when received, soak them in a tub of water containing a small amount of soluble fertilizer for one hour before potting them up. Pot up your grasses as soon as possible upon receipt.

Potting: Most of Walters Gardens, Inc. #1 size grasses should fit nicely into a 1 1/2 to 2 gallon container. If plants are too large for the desired container size, they can be divided to fit a smaller size. When potting grasses, plant the crown just below the surface and pack dirt firmly around the roots. When finished potting, water plants well and place in a 60-68 degree greenhouse.

Growing: While plants are still dormant in spring, avoid over-watering and growing them in too cool of a temperature. The soil should be kept moist, but not soaking wet. Excess watering while dormant will encourage rot and result in lost plants. Miscanthus, Panicum, and Pennisetum are all 'warm-season' grasses that should be grown in full sun with a minimum temperature of 60 degrees to encourage plants to break dormancy. Plants should be salable in 8-10 weeks.

When is the best time for ornamental grass to be received?

Cool Season Grasses

Cool season grasses are at their prime during the cooler months of fall, winter, and spring, and usually bloom before the warmer summer weather arrives. Many are evergreen. Cool season grasses should be received in fall or early spring and potted up immediately. They will put on the most growth during these months. Though they should be kept from freezing over the winter, they do not require much, if any, supplemental heat. Cool season grasses include: Calamagrostis acutiflora, Festuca, and Helictotrichon.

Warm Season Grasses

Warm season grasses grow most actively during the warmers months, then flower in late summer or fall. Most go completely dormant in winter. Warm seasons grasses are not recommended for fall planting. It is best to receive them from early spring through late summer and pot them up immediately. If necessary, provide supplemental heat to keep the plants at 60°F or higher to stimulate top growth. Warm season grasses include: Acorus, Arundo, Andropogon, Calamagrostis brachytricha, Carex, Chasmanthium, Cortaderia, Erianthus, Hakonechloa, Miscanthus, Panicum, Pennisetum, Schizachyrium, Spodiopogon, and Sporobolus.


Sedges, or Carex, are not true grasses at all, though they certainly look similar. They are actually members of the Cyperaceae family, which includes about 4,000 species worldwide. We offer several varieties of Carex, including variegated and yellow varieties, and ground cover and clumping types.  Sedges tend to grow more like warm season grasses, so we recommend receiving them from early spring through late summer rather than in the fall.