When it comes to selling grasses, it’s all about timing – of sales, of bulking, of dormancy. Timing warm-weather and even cool-weather grasses for spring sales can be tricky, but with a little planning, you can have the varieties your customers want when they want them.

After finishing in the fall, cover outside crops along with other perennial crops with normal winter protection. Removing dormant foliage prior to covering can benefit the plants during the winter and lead to a much easier crop to deal with when you uncover in the spring. Then, follow a few tips.

Early spring sales of warm-weather grasses

If you’re wanting early spring sales of warm-weather grasses, it can be hard to get them finished in time with an early spring planting. You can solve this challenge with some well-timed bulking.

Grasses such as Miscanthus, Panicum, Andropogon, and Schizachyrium will respond well to bulking in summer and fall months. Put up liners in early to mid-summer, allowing enough time to finish by fall. June to July is a good window. Then, let them get a good dormancy period over the winter, which promotes good vigor coming out of dormancy.

Grasses needed for early sales can be brought inside to break dormancy. They will respond well to heat, and photoperiod sensitive varieties will benefit from extended day length.

Photoperiod sensitive varieties such as Panicum will naturally slow their growth as day length decreases. Be sure to allow enough time to get them finished by early fall. Grasses like Miscanthus that respond more to temperature rather than photoperiod will continue to grow later in the fall.

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Getting cool-season grasses ready for spring sales

Cool-season grasses like Festuca and Calamagrostis can also be bulked successfully during the fall or winter months. If grown outdoors they can be bulked in the fall; then let them go dormant and care for along with other perennials.

If you’re growing cool-season grasses indoors, they can be finished with minimal heat and good air flow. In milder climates, certain varieties such as Festuca and Calamagrostis can be finished outdoors through the winter.

When to use fungicide

A preventive fungicide drench prior to plants going dormant can help in areas where pots will freeze and thaw repeatedly, or where they will have warm temps and high moisture during the winter.

Monitor the roots of your dormant grasses closely during a warm winter, especially a warm, wet winter. Warm temperatures keep the soil active and can cause root rot issues while your grasses are dormant. Fungicide drenches on crops showing root rot issues may be necessary. Monitor and scout diligently to prevent diseases from taking off.

Avoid freeze-thaw cycles

If you keep grasses in cold frames during the winter, avoid unnecessary freeze-thaw cycles by opening up the cold frames during the day to avoid high temperatures. High temperatures will cause the pots to thaw during the day and then refreeze at night. Let them stay frozen.

Josiah Raymer is head grower and general manager for Emerald Coast Growers, one of the country’s largest ornamental grass and perennial producers. www.ecgrowers.com