Ornamental grasses have a dramatic disposition in the landscape, but they are pretty low fuss in reality. Ornamental grasses dance distinctly through the seasons, verdant to flowery to desiccate. Each look signals the seasons.
Late winter to early spring is a great time to prune ornamental grasses. The goal is to prune right before new shoot growth occurs, around February to March.
Ornamental grasses can be deciduous or evergreen. Deciduous grasses are the ones that go dormant in the winter and can be aggressively pruned to within about 6 inches of the ground. Evergreen grasses just need old flower stalks and dead foliage removed. Some ornamental grasses may put on their most spectacular flowering show in the winter, so wait until this display is complete to prune.
You can use ornamental grass clippings as mulch or you can bungee the tops of the grasses like a pony tail and prune off a clump for easy removal. Using as a mulch has added benefits!
Florida is home to many native ornamental grasses. Think for a moment about the most peaceful places in Florida… for me, I think of swaying grasses. Those grasses holding our sand dunes together, the river of grass that filters much of Florida’s water (aka “the Everglades”), the sacrificial grasses that grow beneath the pines and serve as fuel for Florida’s wildfires, the grasses that feed Florida’s cows and the basis of an entire industry, the grasses that decorate golf courses and challenge golfers, and the grasses that thrive in highway medians offering drivers a sense of road relief.
Grass is a really cool plant, too! It does a special type of photosynthesis that makes it more efficient at making energy than other plants. People have used grasses to make baskets and tools for many thousands of years. Grasses signify strength and productivity as many of the most productive soils in the entire world reside beneath graceful grasses.
Keep your ornamental grasses classy with timely pruning!
Here is a link to the UF/IFAS Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Plant Selection Guide. You can find information about grasses in Florida starting on page 74.
Considerations for Selection and Use of Ornamental Grasses