Thursday, June 7, 2007

Can I Grow Turf Grass in Planters?

I am hoping you can help me. I want to grow wheat grass for my indoor and outdoor planters. Every site I have searched gives suggestions on growing wheat grass for juicing and not ways of growing and maintaining. Is there a way of maintaining wheat grass so that it lives longer than the 3-4 week period these sites suggest?
And is there possibly another plant/grass that has the same look and appeal of wheat grass that is easily maintained?

Thanks for writing. As you have researched, my personal experience is that wheat grass does seem to lose it’s vigor after about a month or so. Even though I have not tried this myself, I believe that there are other turf grass species that you might be able to grow successfully in containers by providing standard turf maintenance.

Most bags of turf grass that you will find in garden centers have a mixture of three different turf grass species: bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass. More and more companies are developing shade tolerant bluegrass species, but one thing remains the same, bluegrass takes a long time to germinate. Fescues are mixed in because they tolerate shade and drought very well, but they too take a long time to germinate. Lastly, there is ryegrass. Mixed usually have a combination of annual and perennial ryegrass because they do germinate quickly – usually about 5-7 days. Therefore, assuming you have at least a few hours of direct sun daily, I would experiment with a combination of annual and perennial ryegrass. Follow the sowing instructions, making sure that the seed and soil is kept moist constantly during the germination process. If you are trying this in containers consider covering them with plastic wrap (therefore creating mini greenhouses) for the first week to increase humidity and chance of success. From there, you will then need to practice proper turf maintenance. When you water, you should use a fair amount and water “deeply” so that the roots are encouraged to grow long and deep into the soil. Strong root development has a direct correlation to the vigor and success of your grass above ground, simply called the “root-to-shoot” ratio. Once the grass gets to 2” tall you can begin to cut it regularly. Let the cuttings fall back into the containers because the recycling of nutrients is important. Do not keep it cut too short because you do not want to stress the plant unnecessarily.

As I have said, I have never tried this myself, but I do think it is certainly worth a shot. If your area is more shaded then you may consider trying fescue seed, but again, that does take a lot longer to germinate. Let me know how the experiment works for you. I will be very curious to hear.

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