Grasstalk is a site about native and ornamental grasses. Sometimes information on other plants will be found here, but most of the content is grass related. Look closely at the photo and you will see a bunny enjoying woolly thyme in front of the Blue HeavenTM grass.

Post questions or comments on this site and I will attempt to answer them !  Enjoy growing grasses. Mary Hockenberry Meyer,  professor and extension horticulturist, University of Minnesota, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, meyer023@umn.edu   Follow me on Twitter at marygrasses


15 Responses to About

  1. w hockenberry says:

    Dr. Meyer,
    I have a small farm in Western Pennsylvania and feel it is too wet here to develope a paraie. The large trees and brush soon cover our hillsides. What do you think ?
    W. Hockenberry Moniteau ’66

    • grasstalk says:

      Thanks for your question on growing a prairie in Pennsylvania!
      Good point, yes in western Pa there is more rain than in the Midwest where prairies survive naturally, and are favored since grasses do not need as much rain as trees to grow. As you know, unless you maintain a grassland (pasture or prairie) by mowing or grazing, it will revert to forest with brush and trees. If you want to grow a prairie in western PA, you will need to mow or burn it regularly. On upland dry sites, where it is tough to grow trees it may be a bit easier to grow a prairie. But, I recall even low quality subsoils left from strip mining grow to trees in time. Right now you are managing land and growing what you want; a prairie is similar, with the management of mowing every few years. Let me know if you have further questions!

  2. Dan says:

    Hi Dr. Meyer,

    I currently have a hodgepodge of hasta and boring looking grasses growing in various areas on my property and I am looking to upgrade. My land has both areas of intense direct sunlight and areas of moderate to full shade in need of some grasses or something with color. I saw the various grasses on your site and would love to be able to add a splash of color and size to anchor down my landscaping in certain areas. I am in search of some grasses that are very low maintenance and can grow in both direct sun and/or shade. Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated for planning my spring planting.

    Thank You!

    Dan – Minnesota

    • grasstalk says:

      thanks for your comment. some tough grasses to try: feather reed grass, little bluestem, and prairie dropseed. These prefer full sun and are easy to find at garden centers. I hope you like them. good luck and let me know how they grow for you.

  3. Jen says:

    Dr. Meyer,
    We have a native grass that was planted a few years ago but no one remembers what it is. Could you help identify the plant by a picture? We are getting several questions about what type of grass it is. Thanks in advanced!

    • grasstalk says:

      Jen, yes, the photo you sent to me is fountain grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides,. This grass is native to Australia and parts of Asia. Fountain grass is partially hardy in Minnesota, and makes a nice mound of foliage with attractive flowers. It may self-seed into lawns, so be careful where you plant it. Thanks for your email, best, Mary

  4. Christina says:

    I live in western Pennsylvania and ornamental grasses are on sale for only $5.00. Can I plant them in early November and they’ll survive the winter? If not, can I overwinter them in the basement and plant them in the spring? Thanks for your help!!

    • grasstalk says:

      It is good to have a month for plants to establish before winter. It is unlikely we will have good weather for growing plants in November, so it’s a risk to plant now, but it’s a bigger risk to attempt to overwinter plants in your basement. I would plant them outside asap, water well and then mulch the plants well when the ground freezes. Let us know how they survive next spring! Good value with not much loss if they die and some may live! Mary Meyer

  5. Barbara says:


    I have posted a photo on my WordPress page today of a huge grass I photographed in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne in Australia

    My husband thinks it is a type of Phormium, but i have no idea! Could you help?


    Thank you, Barbara

  6. Shoegirl says:

    Hello Dr. Meyer,
    I like your blog and especially the pictures of grasses (some of them look like they come from the arboretum but others seem to be from a home residence?). I don’t know if you can answer this question or not as it doesn’t pertain directly to ornamental grasses but what are some plants I could put in pots near my front door (I live here in Minnesota) and how soon in the Spring could I plant them? I’d like things with color and more importantly, height, to them. The plants should be somewhat tough though, as my two boys, Rexter Angel and Harry Cherub, often grab at our shrubbery. Thank you Dr. Meyer! Keep up the good work on the blog.

    • grasstalk says:

      I think Pennisetum would be perfect for you! Its tough, tall and doesn’t resent little boys that may grab at it, and its not poisonous! there are some new kinds that are striped, bright pink and the traditional dark red form. Look for all of them this spring at your garden center. Good Luck!

  7. David Smothers says:

    Hello… I saw the most spectacular miscanthus I have ever seen… it’s been in this lawn for at least 30 years, and I have had no luck identifying it, would you have an opinion as to what it might be? This was taken September 25 in Kansas City, MO.

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