Warm weather ornamental grasses – are they dead?

(Question)

I have two rows of ornamental grasses – one row is cool weather and the other warm weather. The cool weather ones have come in and are doing well. Its now May 31st and the warm weather ones are showing little or no new growth as yet. Are they dead, or should I still wait to see if they will grow? Thanks

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

Warm season grasses thrive in higher temperatures (26°C to 34°C) and wait until the soil is warm and the weather stable before they start growing in late spring/early summer. It can take up to two weeks of consistently warm soil temperatures before they are willing to come out of dormancy. If you garden in a cooler zone, the soil in which your warm season grasses are located may not have fully warmed up yet. Moreover, warm season grasses are often slow to establish, as they focus on root growth in the first two years of their life and do little above ground growth until year three. Are these young plants and/or were they newly planted last year? If so I would be even more patient with them. Best of luck!

—-