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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

UNL Extension in Lancaster County

Lawn & Garden

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Dividing Ornamental Grasses

by Don Janssen, UNL Extension Educator

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Ornamental grasses have become popular additions to the landscape and if you buy them they are kind of expensive. Learning how to grow them yourself is actually quite easy. They can be grown from seed, but the easiest and most effective way to propagate them is through simple division. If you shop around you might be able to find some parent plants in 4 inch pots at a fair price.

One of each variety is good for a start. The best time of the year to divide them is in the spring just before the new growth emerges. If you buy the stock plants in the early spring, you might be able to divide them right away. If you buy them at any other time of the year, just plant them in the garden or other suitable location, knowing that you are going to dig them up in a few months, or a year.

When spring arrives you can divide them at any time as long as they are not well into putting on new growth. The earlier the better. To divide them simply dig up the root mass and start dividing it into pieces. The divisions do not have to be very large. As long as there are some roots, the new plant is likely to grow.

If you have small young plants you can probably just tear the root mass apart with your hands, but if the root mass is very big then you are going to need some tools like a large sharp knife or sharp spade.

When you dig out an old root mass and it is much larger and more dense than you expected, use a very good digging spade and chop the root mass into quarters, and replant the quarters back into your landscape. If the quarters are still too large cut them in half again. You may have some replants to give to a neighbor.

Dividing ornamental grasses every two to three years in this manner will greatly add to your landscape and save you money at the same time.


This resource was added April 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement

PHOTO Credit: Soni Cochran, UNL Extension in Lancaster County

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office


Contact Information University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528 | 402-441-7180