"Tropical" Ornamental Grass - Knowledgebase Question

Schenectady, NY
Question by baronnj
August 3, 1999
I fell in love with a "tropical" ornamental grass. The salesperson informed me that it would not come back next year. I noticed the ornamental grass had seed heads. When I inquired about taking those seed heads and starting new plants in the Spring, she informed me (again) that it was a tropical ornamental grass and would not come up next year (she never actually answered my question on starting new plants). So, is this possible to start new plants???? The only explanation coming to mind for her evasive answer is that she wanted to discourage me from starting new plants (and thus losing a sale) or perhaps the seeds were somehow made "sterile". Please answer.


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Answer from NGA
August 3, 1999

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The seed viability would depend on several factors including maturity before frost, and the variety of grass in question. Some of the ornamental grasses do set viable seed which comes true while others do not. Your success in starting the seeds would further depend on the quality of the seed and on your seed storage and on your seed starting and raising techniques. So in my opinion the salesperson was hedging in a reasonable direction in the sense that seed based production of ornamental grasses is somewhat unreliable -- so much so in fact that commercial propagation is done by root divisions. On the other hand, it's always fun to experiment!

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