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South Regional Reports

Ornamental Grasses in the Fall

Avoid cutting or fertilizing your grasses now, but prepare for spring maintenance

‘White Cloud’ muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘White Cloud’, Zones 6–10) is in full bloom, while the rest of the garden fades into autumn. Photo: Andy Pulte

Taking center stage in many Southern gardens in fall are the artful plumes of ornamental grasses. The graceful seed heads of a variety of species should be in full glory as we march into a much-anticipated autumnal break from the hottest part of summer. However, as you look around your garden, you may take note that there is much to do. Fall cleanup is upon us, annuals are not looking like they once did, and leaves are in the process of giving way in the more temperate parts of the South.

This post is a timely warning that ornamental grasses are not to be fiddled with as soil temperatures cool. Why is this? First, most if not all the most popular ornamental grasses we use in Southern gardens are of the warm-season variety. Simply put, this means they are actively growing during warmer temperatures and slow to a halt in…

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