October 22nd, 2020 – By J.L. Wells
This post will be about overwintering your perennial grasses. This will be an overview of all varieties due to sheer amount of different grasses. I will do my best to specify on varieties that need another approach. I do not know every type of grass out there, so I may miss some. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment below.
For much of the grasses, what you’ll want to do in the fall (generally after the first or second frost) is cut down the plant; if you would rather wait until early spring to cut down you can. The frost will naturally die down the leaves. Leave anywhere from 4-6 inches to allow for the new growth to emerge from that in the spring time. This goes for your switchgrass, feather reed, pampas, fountain, maiden type grasses. When the forecast is starting to show more below freezing temperatures at night, cover the base of each plant with several inches of your preferred coverings (mulch, hay/straw, fallen leaves, compost, etc.). Grasses are fairly hardy but due to where you are located, more harsher winters could risk killing the plant(s) if they are not properly covered.
When it comes to your blue grasses like Blue Oat or Elijah Blue, you can keep the leaves on until spring time. They are shorter in size and don’t thicken up as much as other grasses do. You can also comb your fingers through the plant during the winter time to remove any dead but leaving it until spring will add another layer of protection. You’ll need to add several layers of coverings to them as well. After 3-5 years, the centers will start to die out but do not worry. Simply dig the plant up, split it in half, remove the dying/dead center, and replant the two halves. You can plant them back together or plant them separately.
Once the spring time comes around and the weather isn’t showing any signs of frost, start to uncover your plants. If the coverings are left on for too long, there are several problems that could occur: root rot, mold, fungi(s), or disease(s).
This was a short post, but I wanted to keep it pretty generalized. If you have any questions or concerns, please comment below and I will do my best to answer.