London (change)
16 messages
12/02/2013 at 15:20

I have a large number of miscanthus, molinias and pennisetums. I love them all - but they're looking very tatty - and I'm dying to cut them down! Some experts say "do it in February before the new growth starts, so you don't damage anything". Others say "Leave it until March. It doesn't matter if you cut some of the new growth off". We live in Dorset: would it be totally stupid to do it now?

12/02/2013 at 15:52

I cut down my micatanthusses (? miscanthi) 3-4 weeks ago. I'm on the southern edge of Dartmoor. I do find that cutting it back earlier helps make a neater job of it, but there were signs of new growth already. Can't comment on molinias and pennisetums though.

12/02/2013 at 16:36

I realised my mistake as soon as I'd pressed the button! The grasses are deciduous! Thanks for the comment, figrat.

12/02/2013 at 17:14

Didn't even notice the evergreen bit!

12/02/2013 at 18:41

My garden is cold and exposed so we wait till March and then take the hedge trimmers to them but OH may well use his nice new sharp garden shears this year.   Too big a job for secateurs.

The evergreen forms such as carex buchananii just get a comb with a garden rake.

12/02/2013 at 19:11
Best to leave cutting back grasses for few weeks yet. Don't like cutting new growth at all. Combe through some of the smaller grasses. But, evergreen grasses now say yours are deciduous........are worth growing too. Fescues, elymus magellanicus and carex like Buchanii and testacea are wonderful additions to winter garden. (must onfess to cutting back my miscanthus recently but I live in very mild area. If further north/east I would not have one that yet)
12/02/2013 at 20:10

I have a pennisetum, possibly macrourum, looks really naff at the moment. I think its live parts are well down and as soon as the weather is suitable it will be on the cut list. Sometimes I wish it would go away, it's very invasive and flops too much. Miscanthus I'll do soon as well, I've cut the new growth too often.

I have the molinia called 'Windspiel'. that doesn't need cutting as it's all in pieces and not attached to the base, just needs clearing up. Soon I hope, looking a mess now

12/02/2013 at 20:39
Nut, some pennisetums are invasive. I split them every year for this very reason and this keeps them floriferous and compact. I learned this lesson few years back when I had to dig up pennisetum villosum that had grown large. It was a difficult job as the roots had spread everywhere...deep and laterally. You are right, their "live parts are well down" , esp on plants that have been in place for more than a couple of years. They do very well in pots hidden amongst other plants making beautiful mounds of flowers but without their invasiveness
12/02/2013 at 20:43

I'm still trying to get it out of one of its former sites. 

12/02/2013 at 20:46

No problem here.  Never got a pensisetum through a winter yet.

12/02/2013 at 20:57

I keep hoping it will die. It likes well drained soil, I covered it in fresh horse droppings and shreddings. It's not too hardy, it survived -14C. Maybe this very wet winter following the wet summer will see it off but I bet it doesn't.

12/02/2013 at 21:03
No Nut it will survive. Get it out. Those roots will simply be protected and nourished by your "top dressing"
12/02/2013 at 21:11

Sounds like hard work to me, maybe a spot of glyphosate? 

13/02/2013 at 21:53
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13/02/2013 at 22:12
Nut, glyphosate doesn't always get to every root. Your pennisetum will have energetic strands deep down that some prob will escape weedkiller. It is bit of an effort to dig it out but best to do it. Then into some big pots in good compost for lovely mounds of flowers mid to late summer.
13/02/2013 at 22:39

Maybe that's the way to go Verdun. I like grasses in pots. Thanks

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