The lamp cleaner grass, also called pennisetum or feather bristle grass, is an easy-care plant and impresses with its decorative false ears. Since the ornamental grass carries these long after most of the other plants have withered, it is particularly suitable for beautifying and enhancing flower beds. And it only takes a few simple steps every year.

Be careful when choosing

Lamp cleaner grass is not just lamp cleaner grass. And although most varieties are hardy and impervious to frost, this is not the case for all species. When choosing for the garden, care should be taken to ensure that it is a hardy variety. Otherwise the ornamental grass will not survive the winter outdoors, so it can only be used as a container plant.

location

The lamp cleaner grass needs a sunny place that is very warm overall. The site should neither tend to waterlogging nor be compacted by the constant influx of water.

A flowerbed that is not shaded by trees or the southern corner of a house is ideal. Since the feather bristle grass can also serve as a container plant, south-facing balconies and terraces are also possible. The main thing in any case is that the ornamental grass receives sufficient light and does not dry out despite the required heat.

In addition, it needs enough space, because the grass can be taller than a meter and take on a large diameter.

The right substrate

When it comes to the right substrate, lamp cleaning grass is undemanding. Simple garden soil or standard potting soil are sufficient. Because waterlogging and compacted soil are not well tolerated by it, the substrate should be loosened with gravel or sand. It is also possible to introduce coconut fibers.

If the soil is loose and not solidifying anyway, you can do without it without any problems.

Tip: If you want to save yourself fertilizing in the beginning, use a mixture of garden soil and compost or pre-fertilized potting soil.

The substrate for the container plant

As a container plant, pennon cleaner grass is just as easy to use. Simple pre-fertilized potting soil or potted plant soil is sufficient. Here, too, it is advisable to use sand, gravel or coconut fibers for loosening. In addition, care should be taken to ensure that no waterlogging occurs and that the surface of the substrate does not solidify.

maintenance

The lamp-cleaning grass does not require a lot of maintenance. Standing free in the garden, it should only be fertilized and cut in spring. In the case of the potted plants, watering and frost-free wintering are added regularly.
The ornamental grass is so frugal and undemanding that even propagation is easy and problem-free.

pour

As already mentioned, waterlogging does not affect the lamp-cleaning grass. However, a dry root ball will also harm it. For this reason, the ornamental grass in the tub should be watered regularly, and that which is free in the garden should be watered when necessary.
Notes on pouring:

  • Do not use water that is too cold, cold moisture is harmful to the plant
  • Use water that is as soft as possible, i.e. rainwater with little lime, stale tap water or filter water
  • Pour more in the bucket before the top soil has dried off
  • Brown tips and stalks are often a sign of drought, in which case flooding watering makes sense
  • In midsummer and during persistent dry phases, the feather bristle grasses planted freely in the garden should also be watered – once they have dried out, they only recover slowly

Fertilize

The lamp cleaner grass normally does not need any fertilization. However, if it has been growing in the same place for a long time or if it has been depleted by other plants, it should be supplied with additional nutrients.
Especially in the flowering period, because then the ornamental grass needs a lot of energy due to the formation of the false spikes.

Suitable fertilizers are:

  • Komposterde
  • Blaukorn
  • Pond water
  • Liquid complete fertilizer for green plants
  • Liquid fertilizer for perennials
Tip: Water the ornamental grass every two weeks with highly diluted fertilizer so that the nutrient content in the soil remains relatively the same – the growth is more abundant and more even.

When and how do you blend?

The lamp cleaner grass does not need a shaping cut. However, dried up stalks and tips can be removed. However, this cut should not be too radical and should not be done in autumn. Because the short stalks favor the development of rot during the cold season.
In spring, after the ground has frozen last, the lamp-cleaning grass can be cut back to a height of 10cm. The budding is then abundant and quick again.

Tip: If the growth is rather weak and the ornamental grass shows gaps, the grass should be propagated – this process stimulates growth again.

Multiply

The feather bristle grass can easily be propagated by dividing it. To do this, it is dug out of a bucket or bed in spring after the last frost.

Depending on the size of the root section, it can now be divided into two or more daughter plants. These daughter plants are then simply replanted – this can also be at the location of the mother plant. A portion of compost or fertilizer, which is put in the ground before replanting, can provide a growth spurt.

Preparing
the ornamental grass for hibernation If the ornamental grass is in a sheltered place that cannot be reached by the icy winter wind, it needs additional insulation. Even then, a few layers of brushwood, mulch and straw won’t do any harm. If the lamp cleaner grass is rather unprotected in winter, some garden fleece should also be wrapped around the shrub. The preparation is of course easier with the feather bristle grass in the bucket, this is simply brought inside.

In addition, fertilization should be used. From around September or October, additional nutrients would do more harm than good.

In no case should the grass be cut in autumn. Because this makes it more susceptible to frost damage and rot.

Winter in the garden

If the ornamental grass is in a place that is well protected against wind in winter and where heat is stored – for example through house walls or other dense plants – no winter protection is necessary. In hard, long winters, brushwood or clippings should still be applied to protect the roots. In addition, it makes sense to tie the stalks together in autumn so that the roots remain protected from moisture and cold.

If, on the other hand, the lamp-cleaning grass is in a location that is very warm and sunny in summer – but unfavorably exposed in winter – it needs a little more protection to survive the cold season. A small winter tent consisting of stakes, bamboo mats and garden fleece is ideal. The advantage here is the spacious frost protection that is created. Culms are not kinked. However, brushwood, straw and fir branches as well as mulch and grass clippings are also suitable.

Tip: If there is a very hard, long winter with extremely sub-zero temperatures, it is more advisable to spend the winter in the house.

Winter in the bucket

Wintering in the bucket is very easy. All you have to do is move the plant and its container into a dark room, which remains frost-free but still cool throughout the winter. A little light will not harm the plant during winter. The substrate should be checked for rot or excessive dryness at regular intervals and watered if necessary.

Preparing for spring
In the garden, it is sufficient to remove the winter protection as soon as there is no longer any persistent risk of frost. In preparation for the container plant, temperature and light duration should be increased.
If the bucket is in a room with a window, that happens all by itself.

Otherwise a sunny corner is sufficient. If there is still a risk of frost during the night, it is advisable to wrap the bucket with fleece or to put it inside again.

Note: The upper part of the feather bristle grass often dies after hibernation, it dries up completely. At first glance, the plant looks dead, especially if this occurs after a long and very cold winter.
However, nobody should be fooled by this. If the spring pruning is carried out properly, the grass will soon sprout again.

The spring cut

As already mentioned, the pennon cleaner grass should be cut after hibernation. The ideal time for this is between April and May.

The grass should be cut radically to a hand’s breadth above the ground. This can be difficult, especially if the plant was already very lush and fully grown. However, doing this ensures that the grass continues to grow healthily and extensively.

Tip: After cutting, the plant should be fertilized or provided with compost. This drives them out faster.

Moving and repotting

Repositioning the feather bristle grass is only necessary if the grass does not thrive properly, the soil continues to dry out despite regular watering or waterlogging forms. Alternatively, however, the introduction of another substrate or loosening with sand, gravel or coconut fibers can also be useful here. Likewise, mixing the garden soil with compost or more extensive fertilization.

If the plants are propagated, however, repositioning is not necessary.

The situation is different when planting in a tub. The nutrients are normally used up faster here and space becomes a scarce commodity more quickly. Repotting may be necessary as soon as the bucket becomes too small and can no longer hold the root eyrie. If this is the case, a larger bucket must of course be selected. Alternatively, the root eyrie can be divided and the daughter plants created in this way can be placed in different tubs.

If there is a lack of nutrients or if the soil compacts, a change of the substrate is sufficient. The same applies to an infestation with rot, fungi or pests. If the substrate is changed, spores, mites and other parasites that have fallen down are also removed.

Diseases and pests

The ornamental grass is generally not susceptible to diseases and pests. Only rust, i.e. a fungal attack, and rot occur relatively often.

In the event of such an infestation, we recommend removing the affected parts, using fungicides and reducing the humidity. If these diseases occur again and again, a change of location should be considered.

In the event of an infestation with spider mites or similar pests, commercially available insecticides are sufficient. However, these should really only be used if there are visible parasites or their traces.

Is lamp cleaner grass poisonous?

Lamp cleaner grass is not poisonous, but it is also not entirely harmless for pets and small children. The stiff, hard stalks are usually very tempting and are therefore often chewed on and bitten by cats and dogs. If smaller parts or even whole stalks are eaten, they can get into the windpipe due to their firm structure. However, even if they are in the stomach or esophagus, they can pierce the mucous membrane. The feeling of a foreign body irritates and causes constant coughing, sneezing or choking.

These stalks may need to be surgically removed.

With children, there is simply a risk of being cut if these stalks tear out to play, hold on to them or fall into the bush.

If there are children and pets, the lamp-cleaning grass should be planted in a safe place and delimited accordingly.

Conclusion
The lamp-cleaning grass is an easy-care plant that is an eye-catcher in the garden until late autumn. She doesn’t expect much care for that. At the optimal location, apart from annual pruning, it does not need any fertilizer or water. And the winter protection can usually be small. Bucket or flowerbed – the ornamental grass is always decorative.

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