Transplanting and Dividing
Your Native Grasses



Sporobolus airoides

Like many perennials, ornamental grasses eventually begin to die at there center and become unsightly and weak. Many can be renewed by division or filling in the middle with some outside growth.

For native ornamentals, this should be done in the spring, especially your warm weather natives.

Cool weather plants can be moved and divided in the fall as well.

To clarify this again, Cool weather ornamentals flower in late winter and early to mid spring depending on your location and warm weather grasses flower from mid summer to early fall.

By flowering early, cool weather grasses have time to store up energy going into fall with a wave of new growth

Warm weather ornamentals are depleted by now and have little or no reserves to make it through a cold winter.

Instead of transplanting and dividing the whole clump, you may want to give it a quick fix.

To fill in the middle of the doughnut (when the middle of a dies out and you have that hole in the middle, like a doughnut), you will want to take a sharp spade and other cutting tools.

Cut and dig until the hole is removed. Fill this with fresh soil and dig some plugs from the outer part of the clump.

Fill in the middle, water and let it grow. This will cure the situation for a few years, but in time it will die out again because sun light can't reach it and like all plants, it dies out.

Transplanting is your other option.

To do this, you will need to dig up and divide your clumps. planting the strongest healthiest pieces which is usually the outer part of the grass.

It is best to lift small and medium-sized clumps from the ground with a strong trowel or sharp spade and use a knife or narrow edged trowel to divide them.

Discard any dead material from the center and thoroughly water divisions immediately.

A Sharp sturdy spade (not a shovel), is essential for dividing and managing the largest clumps. Mature specimens are often big and heavy to be lifted in one piece and must be sectioned in the ground (I've been known to use an ax for this) before lifting.

Unless you are working around buried cable, the best type of spade for this is one constructed of modern steel alloys, which are light but strong.

Some manufacturers offer spades with cushioning rubber footpads at the top of the blade. These can be costly, however.

In situations where electrical line are present, you may want some help on this and call MISS DIG to find out where lines are.

Only spades insulated with nonconducting materials should be used when attempting to dig and transplanting.

Again, water deep and thoroughly.

Transplanting is a process to be thought out and make sure you have some time and hopefully a helper.

With proper care, your native ornamentals will provide years of enjoyment in your gardens and landscapes.

Return to Grasses Main Page for Your Region and More

New Plantings

Soil Needs

Water Needs

Sun or Shade

Fertilizing Needs

Cutting and Burning


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