Ornamental grasses are great plants for the landscape. They’re easy to grow and they tolerate the Kansas heat, drought, and don’t have a lot of insect issues. So, they make wonderful plants for your landscape. But, like other perennial plants, as they continue to grow and expand, they can start to get too big for the location, and they can start to die out in the center.
So, they need to be divided periodically. The warm season grasses, as the name implies, can tolerate a little more warm temperatures before it starts to turn green. Typically, ornamental grass is best divided in mid to early spring.
Gardeners have different tools they like to use to divide their perennial grasses. A sharp shovel may work, but for some plants an ax would be better. Some grasses are very sturdy, so an ax works well to break through the roots. Some people like to dig the whole plant out, and then divide it. But, I find it easier to work with it in place and use the ax to cut it and divide while it’s in the ground. Then, just dig around the plant with a shovel.
The section you pull out can be given to a friend, or you can plant it in a new location in your landscape. If you want the grass to be centered in the original location, you’ll need to dig up the existing ornamental grass and move it over slightly. You may need to have some extra soil or compost to fill in the space.
When the division is in place, you’ll need to settle the soil around the roots by watering. Then, apply mulch around the plant so that it won’t lose as much moisture from evaporation. With the new plant in place it’s ready to grow and give you pleasure in the landscape. Just remember, in a few years, you may need to repeat the process.
This feature story prepared with Gregg Eyestone, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Riley County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.