If you’d like to learn how to grow ornamental grass from seed, I can tell you that I’ve learned a few tricks while experimenting last spring. Part of my seed growing challenge was growing several types of native prairie grasses which can also fall into the ornamental grass category.
There is probably no one, exact, right way to start ornamental grass from seed, but for practicality purposes, I’ve found that there are a few ways this process can be done with success. After trying several methods, method #2 worked best for us, but all 3 ways should work, provided you follow the seed packet’s suggestions. See, how to read and understand seed packets, here.
3 ways for how to grow ornamental grass from seed
Method #1: Starting single seeds in seed growing pods, indoors, early to mid spring.
Planting 1 or 2 seeds into a seed pod is a slower method, but works in the long run.
Starting ornamental grass seed by planting 1 or 2 seeds per growing cell will work, just not as fast as method #2. And mind you, this was the suggested method on the seed packet. Not wanting to get creative and ruin the seed, this is how I stared my first batch of prairie grass seed.
This photo shows 5 mature single seedlings planted into a clump form.
The good news is, I was able to fix this problem, or perhaps I should say speed up the process. If you do decide to grow 1 or 2 seeds per growing cell, you can transplant them into a clump, when planting to ground. The photo above shows how I took 5 single, mature grass seedlings and planted them as a group, or clump.
This photo shows the same clump, one month later.
After one month, the grouping started to form a nice clump that will show very nicely the following year.
Method #2: Starting a clump of grass seed into a single growing pod, indoors, early to mid spring.
This is a photo of rye grass (aka Easter grass), but it’s a good example of what the pods will look like with a scatter of seeds rather than just 1 or 2.
Last spring I grew some Easter grass. I scattered a bunch of the grass seed into each pod. The grass seed grew into beautiful clumps of Easter grass. I had to wonder if I could grow my prairie grass the same way.
I gave it a try and sure enough, growing the grass seed clump style in the seed starting pots worked really well. Note: some of the seed types don’t germinate as fast, and some prefer seeding directly to ground, but all in all, this method worked best.
It’s really that simple, and as long as you water and care for the grass per the recommended steps on the seed packet. You also want to make sure the perennial grass is a proper fit to your growing zone.
Method #3: Planting grass seed in clumps directly into the ground, outdoors in the fall.
While some types of grass will work well started indoors, many of the grass seeds can be planted clump style right into your garden in the fall for a spring or summer bloom the following year.
That brings us to the third way you can start ornamental grass from seed. And that is to plant seeds in groupings right into your soil. This would be as opposed to planting 1 or 2 seeds spaced out as you might do when planting certain vegetables. Now I can’t say that spacing out 1 or two seeds every few feet won’t eventually get you healthy clumps of ornamental grass, and boy that would save money, wouldn’t it. But the desired result of a nice, healthy clump of grass will take a lot longer to form, and all of the weeding you would have to do in the meantime could be frustrating.
If you decide to plant your ornamental grass seed right into the ground, one tip that I would suggest is marking off the area where the seeds have been planted. One good way to do this would be to cut the bottom 2/3rds off of a plastic planting pot and place the remaining circular piece into the soil around the grass seed. Including a plant marker will also help, if you are planting several different types of grass seed. The main idea, here is to be able to follow the progress of the seedlings while not confusing them with other plants or weeds that will most like start growing around the seedlings.
One last point to mention, if you’d like to plant the grass seed directly into the ground, is to make sure the area you are planting in is not going to get flooded during the first few months of seeding. We get heavy rain storms in the spring and fall where I live. That is why starting the grass seed in pods and transplanting to the ground turned out to be the best method for us, at least for that area of your yard. Some types of grasses, especially prairie varieties, actually grow best when planted in the fall, directly to ground.
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Supplies to grow ornamental grass from seed indoorspeat pots and planting trays
Plastic wrap (aka Saran Wrap)
Spray water bottle
Detailed steps to grow ornamental grass from seed indoors
Pour some of the seed growing soil into a bowl or container.
Dampen the soil by holding the container under the faucet. Stir the soil well the even out the dampness. Don’t soak it too much, just enough to dampen.
Fill the planting cells with the seed growing soil to just below the top. I used a spoon to scoop the soil into the pods.
Sprinkle the seeds onto the top of the soil. Tamp down.
Spritz the top using the spray water bottle.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Store in a warm area that gets part sun part shade.
Once a day, pull back the plastic and spray the soil with the water bottle.
Depending on the type of seed, seedlings will begin to sprout within 2 to 3 weeks, in most cases.
After seedlings have sprouted and strengthened for about 2 weeks, move them to the outside for the hardening off period, once there are no signs of frost outdoors.
Three main points to remember if you want to grow ornamental grass from seed are:
Ornamental grass typically shows best when grown in clump form.
When trying to choose which ornamental grasses to grow, keep in mind that the grasses that are more native to your area and proven to grow in your climate will do the best.
Not all ornamental grasses are the same. Make sure to read seed packets for the best method suggested to start that type of ornamental grass from seed.
Ornamental grass, whether native or not, can add depth to your landscape. Growing ornamental grass from seed is one way to save money, experiment and enjoy creating your own unique landscape or garden.
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