Overwintering: the purple grasses

I finally cleaned up the growing table in the basement (at least the top table -- the lower one for seed starting won't be needed for a while and therefore is a mess) in preparation for getting my grass divisions going.


I'm mainly interested in overwintering two different purple grasses this year: purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum') and Pennisetum 'Vertigo'. I've done the purple fountain grass several times now with only one failure: last year when I waited too long to plant the divisions.

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This year I didn't immediately get the divisions potted, nor did I wait until February -- I compromised and waited about a month.


I potted nine divisions, which is probably much more than I need, but I suspect a couple of these may still fail and want to get at least six plants out of this.

You can see that there seems to be plenty of green on most of these:


So now I just water and wait for evidence of growth, either at the tops of the plants or by new shoots from the bottom -- or both. I'm fairly confident that most of these will grow.

I'm less confident with the 'Vertigo' divisions though, for a couple of reasons:


First, I haven't tried overwintering small divisions like this before. Last year I just left the two pots in the garage and they did fine. That seems a bit risky to me, as I'd rather have actively growing specimens as backup -- I must have this plant in the garden again next year!

The second concern is the thickness of the stalks. These things are about 5/8" (16mm) in diameter, so I'm not sure what to expect. This gives me hope though:


It appears to be a bud (if that's the correct term) where a new stalk will emerge. I'll probably check it daily for signs of growth.

(Note that 80% of the 'Vertigo' plant that I dug up is still in one piece, and will stay in the garage for the winter. These small divisions are more experiment than conservation effort.)

Look how deeply-colored the stems are -- so purple!


Speaking of purple, I also took this time to make a few tradescantia cuttings:


And since I was doing cuttings, I pruned a couple of begonias and rather than discarding the cut parts I put them into water.


Even when growing season is over I have a hard time throwing away plants (or even potential plants)!

I'll post updates on all of these in a few weeks.

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scottweberpdx  – (December 9, 2013 at 9:40 AM)  

You are so good...I don't know if I'd be able to do this! The only plant I have that isn't truly hardy in my garden is 'Vertigo', and I just decided I'd buy a new one each year. Actually, they are hardy in my garden...but they take so long to get growing in the spring, that it's just easier to buy a new one that has a head start. Good luck...that definitely looks like a new stem emerging!

Alan  – (December 9, 2013 at 10:41 AM)  

Scott: I'd rather spend money in the spring on plants that I don't already have -- plus I really enjoy having something to grow during winter. :)

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