Reed Canary Grass: The Ultimate Guide to Growing this Feather in Your Cap

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If you’re looking for a hardy and versatile grass that can thrive in a variety of conditions, look no further than Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea). Whether you’re hoping to create a lush green lawn, establish a productive pasture, or restore a wetland area, this plant has got you covered. In this complete guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to grow, care for, and make the most of your Reed Canary Grass.

Benefits of Growing Your Own Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Benefits of growing Reed Canary Grass at home:

  • Excellent for erosion control on slopes and riverbanks
  • Provides food and cover for wildlife
  • Helps purify water in wetland areas and along stream banks
  • Produces tall, showy green foliage that can be used in floral arrangements
  • Drought tolerant once established
  • Grows quickly and easily in a variety of soil types

General Information About Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Plant Family: Poaceae (grass family)
Plant Latin Name: Phalaris arundinacea

Plant Variations Available

Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) is a highly versatile plant that grows in a variety of habitats, including wetlands, prairies, and forests. It is a cool-season grass that is native to Europe and Asia but has been extensively cultivated in North America as a forage crop and for soil stabilization. There are several variations of Reed Canary Grass, each with its own unique characteristics.


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One popular variation of Reed Canary Grass is the Palaton Reed Canary Grass, which has a high yield potential, making it an excellent choice for forage production. It is highly adaptable to various soil types, has a good disease and pest resistance, and provides excellent winter forage for livestock. This variation also has a longer growing season, allowing for multiple cuttings throughout the year.

Another variation of Reed Canary Grass is the Improved Pioneer Reed Canary Grass, which is known for its high dry matter production and early maturation. It has a greater tolerance to acidity and root rot compared to other varieties of Reed Canary Grass, allowing it to thrive in less-than-ideal soil conditions. This variation is also highly palatable to livestock and provides excellent nutritional value, making it an ideal forage crop.

The Largo Reed Canary Grass is another variation that is highly adaptable to wet soil conditions, making it an excellent choice for wetland restoration and conservation projects. It has a good stand persistence and can grow up to a height of 6-8 feet, providing excellent cover for wildlife.

In conclusion, Reed Canary Grass is a versatile plant with several variations that offer unique characteristics, making it an excellent choice for forage production, soil stabilization, and wetland restoration. When selecting a variation, it is important to consider the intended use, soil conditions, and desired yield potential.

Germinating Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Preferred Zones

Reed Canary Grass is a versatile and hardy perennial plant that can grow outdoors in a range of environments. However, there are certain zones where it thrives best and produces optimal yields.


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If you’re looking to grow Reed Canary Grass outdoors, the best zones to do so are Zones 3 through 9 in the United States. These zones cover a large swath of the country, including the upper Midwest, Northeast, and Pacific Northwest.

Reed Canary Grass prefers moist, well-drained soils and thrives in temperate climates with plenty of rainfall. It’s also tolerant of a wide range of soil types, from heavy clay to sandy soils. In fact, it’s often used in wetland restoration projects to help stabilize soil and prevent erosion.

One thing to note when growing Reed Canary Grass is that it can be invasive in some areas. If you’re planning to grow it in a natural setting, be sure to check with your local authorities to make sure it’s not considered a noxious weed. It can also be a great addition to pastures and hayfields, as it provides good grazing for livestock and produces a high-quality hay.

When it comes to planting, Reed Canary Grass can be seeded directly into the ground or started indoors and transplanted after the last frost. It’s a fast-growing plant, so it can quickly establish itself and produce a healthy stand.

In summary, if you live in Zones 3 through 9 and have a desire to grow Reed Canary Grass, you’re in luck. With a little bit of effort and attention, you can enjoy a productive and versatile plant that adds beauty and functionality to your outdoor space.

Sowing Instructions

Looking to sow some Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)? Excellent choice! As an incredibly versatile, hardy perennial grass, Reed Canary Grass has become a favorite of farmers, ranchers, and homeowners alike. And while it may seem daunting to get started with sowing, it’s actually quite simple.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure your Reed Canary Grass planting is a success:

1. Choose the right time to sow. Reed Canary Grass is typically sown in the spring or late summer, when temperatures are cooler and moisture levels are higher. This helps ensure the seed will germinate efficiently and grow quickly.

2. Prepare your site. The ideal site for Reed Canary Grass should be weed-free and well-drained, with good soil fertility. Consider tilling the soil to a depth of around 4 to 6 inches, and adding compost or other organic matter to enhance soil structure and fertility.

3. Select your method of sowing. Reed Canary Grass can be sown by hand, with a broadcast seeder, or with a drill seeder. Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks, so choose the one that works best for you.

4. Sow your seed. No matter which method you choose, it’s important to sow the seed evenly and at the recommended depth. For Reed Canary Grass, this means planting the seed at a depth of around 1/4 to 1/2 inch, and spacing seedlings around 2 to 3 inches apart.

5. Water and care for your seedlings. Once your Reed Canary Grass is sown, make sure to water it well and provide regular maintenance to help it grow strong and healthy. This might include fertilizing, pruning, or weeding as needed.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure a successful sowing of Reed Canary Grass and enjoy its many benefits for years to come. So go ahead and give it a try – your lawn, pasture, or field will thank you!

Preparation Advice

If you’re thinking of growing Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea), there are a few things you need to know before you get started. This perennial grass is known for its high yield and adaptability, making it a popular choice for livestock forage and soil conservation. However, like any crop, it will only thrive with the right preparation and care. Here are some tips and equipment you’ll need:


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1. Soil testing – Start by conducting a soil test to determine the pH and nutrient levels of your soil. Reed Canary Grass prefers a pH range of 5.5 to 7.0 and a moderate level of soil fertility.

2. Seed selection – Choose high-quality seed from a reputable supplier to ensure good germination and vigorous growth. Reed Canary Grass can be seeded in spring or fall, and typically requires around 15-20 lbs. of seed per acre.

3. Tillage equipment – Prepare your seedbed by tilling the soil to break up any clumps and create a smooth, level surface. A disc harrow, field cultivator or plow may be necessary depending on the condition of your soil.

4. Seed drill or broadcast seeder – Once the soil is prepared, you’ll need to plant the seed. A seed drill is the most efficient and accurate method, but a broadcast seeder can also work if you are careful to distribute the seed evenly.

5. Fertilizer and weed control – After planting, be sure to fertilize according to the soil test recommendations and monitor for weed growth. Herbicides can be used to control weeds, but make sure to follow all label instructions and precautions.

6. Watering and irrigation – Reed Canary Grass prefers moist, well-drained soil and will require regular watering during dry periods. Irrigation systems such as sprinklers or drip lines may be necessary depending on the availability of natural moisture.


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Overall, growing Reed Canary Grass is a rewarding and profitable endeavor if you take the time to prepare properly and give your crop the care it needs. With the right equipment and methods, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of high-quality forage that will benefit both your livestock and your land.

Germination Tools and Equipment

Germinating Reed Canary Grass can be a tricky process, but with the right tools and equipment, you can ensure healthy growth and development of your plants. Here are some of the best tools and equipment you will need:

1. Seeds – Of course, the first item on the list is the seeds themselves. Make sure to purchase high-quality seeds from a reputable source.

2. Seed trays – Seed trays are essential for starting your seeds indoors. They are designed to hold soil and allow for proper drainage, ensuring your seeds do not become oversaturated.

3. Seed starting soil – Using the right soil is crucial when it comes to germinating Reed Canary Grass. Make sure to choose a soil that is specifically designed for seed starting and has plenty of nutrients.


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4. Grow lights – Depending on the amount of natural light your plants receive, you may need to supplement with artificial grow lights. These will ensure your seedlings get the proper amount of light needed for healthy growth.

5. Watering can – Make sure to use a gentle watering can with a fine spray head to avoid disturbing the delicate seedlings.

6. Heat source – Reed Canary Grass seeds require warmth for germination. Invest in a heat mat or other heat source to keep your soil at the optimal temperature for germination.

7. Humidity dome – A humidity dome is an additional piece of equipment you can use to maintain moisture levels and humidity during the germination process, promoting faster and more successful germination.

In summary, germinating Reed Canary Grass requires attention to detail and the right tools and equipment. By using high-quality seeds, seed trays, seed starting soil, grow lights, a watering can, heat source, and humidity dome, you can ensure successful, healthy growth for your plants.

Growing Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Light Requirements

When it comes to growing Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea), lighting requirements are an essential factor to consider. This species of grass is known for its adaptability to a wide range of light intensities, but proper lighting is still necessary to promote healthy growth and vitality.

Reed Canary Grass thrives in full sunlight, making it an ideal choice for outdoor growth. It requires at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day to reach optimal growth rates. If you live in an area with long winters or limited summer daylight hours, this grass can also tolerate moderate shade. However, excessive shade can lead to weak, spindly growth and reduced overall quality of the grass.

For indoor cultivation, fluorescent lights can provide sufficient lighting for Reed Canary Grass. These lights emit a balanced spectrum of light that simulates natural sunlight, which is crucial for optimal growth. Set up the lights in a way that covers the area where the grass is growing, and adjust the height of the bulbs to ensure they are not too close or too far away from the grass. Typically, the bulbs should be positioned 2-6 inches above the grass for optimal performance.


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It’s important to keep in mind that lighting requirements will vary throughout the growth cycle. During the germination phase, Reed Canary Grass requires a low level of light intensity. As the grass matures, however, the light intensity should increase to promote strong, healthy growth. Hence, you should monitor the grass closely and adjust your lighting schedules to keep up with its growth stages.

In summary, Reed Canary Grass is adaptable to different lighting conditions, but it requires sufficient sunlight or fluorescent light for optimal growth. When providing lighting, ensure that it covers the entire growth area and adjust as the plant matures. By meeting these lighting requirements, you’ll have flourishing and healthy Reed Canary Grass that adds a sense of visual appeal to your garden or living space.

Temperature Requirements

Reed Canary Grass, also known as Phalaris arundinacea, is a cool-season perennial grass that thrives in temperate climates. As with many plants, the ideal temperature range for this hearty grass is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, reed canary grass is capable of tolerating a wide range of temperatures, including those well below freezing, so long as it does not endure prolonged exposure to extreme heat or cold. During the growing season, temperatures below 60°F can inhibit growth and survival of the plant while temperatures consistently above 75°F can induce dormancy and limit productivity.

It’s worth noting that while reed canary grass is often used as a forage crop for its high yields and nutritive value, its heat tolerance makes it somewhat invasive in some areas, leading many growers to treat it as a weed. So, it’s a great plant to grow in cooler climates where there are no growing concerns about its invasive potential.

If you’re planning to grow reed canary grass, don’t forget to keep an eye on temperature fluctuations and make sure it’s getting the appropriate care it deserves according to its growing season requirements. By providing the optimal conditions, you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy, hardy grass that’s sure to thrive year after year.

My Favorite Tools For Growing Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Caring for Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) requires some basic tools and equipment to ensure that the plants remain healthy and thriving. Whether you’re growing this plant for pasture, erosion control, or as a decorative ornamental, you will want to have the right gear to help you maintain your plants. Here are some of the best tools and equipment you will need to care for your Reed Canary Grass successfully:

1. Pruning Shears – To keep your Reed Canary Grass tidy and prevent overgrowth, you’ll need a good pair of pruning shears. These will help you trim any dead or dying leaves and shoots, as well as shape the plant when necessary.


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2. Spade or Trowel – When planting Reed Canary Grass, you’ll need a spade or trowel to dig the holes for your plants. This tool will also help you uproot any weeds that pop up around your grass, keeping the area clean and clear.

3. Watering Can or Hose – Reed Canary Grass needs consistent moisture to thrive, so having a watering can or hose nearby is essential. Be sure to water your plants regularly, especially during hot, dry spells, to prevent the grass from becoming brittle and yellow.

4. Fertilizer – While Reed Canary Grass doesn’t require extensive fertilization, adding some nutrient-rich fertilizer to your soil can help your plants grow strong and healthy. Look for a slow-release fertilizer with a balanced mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

5. Mulch – To keep the soil around your Reed Canary Grass moist and cool, consider adding a layer of mulch to the topsoil. This will help retain moisture, prevent weed growth, and keeps the soil temperature at an acceptable level.


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In conclusion, caring for Reed Canary Grass is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. With a few basic tools and equipment, you’ll be able to maintain your plants’ health and beauty for years to come. Remember to stay consistent with your care routine and give your plants the attention and love they deserve.

Preferred Soil Type

Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) is a hardy perennial grass that grows in wetlands and low-lying areas. If you want to grow this grass in your garden, ensuring that the soil is appropriate is crucial to its health and growth.

For Reed Canary Grass, a moist and fertile soil is ideal. The soil should be loamy, with good drainage and a pH of 6-7. This grass is tolerant of heavy soils, but it won’t perform well in poor drainage situations, which can lead to root rot.

For those looking to grow Reed Canary in a wetland, marsh, or other swampy location, you should make sure that the soil is well-drained enough to allow for the grass to thrive but wet enough to provide the necessary moisture this plant needs.

A soil rich in organic matter is also important for Reed Canary Grass. Follow the correct planting procedures by adding compost and/or manure to the soil, along with a balanced all-purpose fertilizer to get the best results.

It is also important to ensure that the soil is at the correct temperature for planting, typically early Spring. The ideal temperature for Reed Canary Grass ranges between 68-77°F, with germination taking no more than ten days.

In conclusion, the soil requirements for growing healthy Reed Canary Grass include a moist, fertile, well-drained, and loamy soil rich in organic matter, well-placed with regular and sufficient fertilizers. With the proper care and maintenance, your Reed Canary Grass is sure to thrive, and it can serve as an attractive and sustainable addition to your garden or landscape.

Watering Requirements

When it comes to growing healthy Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea), watering is an essential aspect to ensure its growth and development. But, how often should you water this plant? While the exact answer can vary depending on climate, soil, and other factors, there are some general guidelines that can help you.

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that Reed Canary Grass requires consistent soil moisture to thrive. This means that the soil should never be allowed to dry out completely, but at the same time, we don’t want it to be waterlogged either.

So, a good rule of thumb is to water the plant deeply and regularly but infrequently. This means that you should water your Reed Canary Grass once or twice a week, depending on the weather conditions and soil moisture.

It’s best to water the plant early in the morning or late in the day when temperatures are cooler, and the sun is not as intense. This helps prevent water evaporation and minimizes the risk of fungal diseases that can occur when the plant’s leaves stay wet for too long.


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When watering Reed Canary Grass, make sure to water the soil around the roots and not the leaves. Overhead watering can cause the leaves to become waterlogged, which can increase the risk of fungal diseases.

Lastly, monitor your plant regularly to check if it’s getting adequate moisture. If you notice wilting or yellowing leaves, it’s a sign that the plant needs more water. On the other hand, if you notice the plant’s leaves turning brown or the soil becoming waterlogged, it’s a sign that the plant is getting too much water and needs to dry out a bit.

In summary, watering Reed Canary Grass is essential for its growth and development. Aim for deep, regular watering but infrequently, watering the soil around the roots and not overhead, and monitoring the plant’s moisture needs regularly to ensure its health and vitality.

What You Need To Know About Fertilizing Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

When it comes to growing healthy Reed Canary Grass, fertilization plays a crucial role. This grass is known for its ability to thrive in a variety of soil types, but regular fertilization can help ensure optimal growth and yield.

To begin with, it is important to understand that a well-balanced fertilizer is necessary for Reed Canary Grass to flourish. The ideal fertilizer contains a fairly equal amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is especially important for this type of grass, as it helps with the formation of chlorophyll and promotes overall plant growth.

When it comes to applying fertilizer, it is best to start early in the growing season, ideally in early spring. This will give the grass plenty of time to absorb nutrients and grow strong before the summer heat sets in. Depending on the soil quality and conditions, it may be necessary to apply multiple rounds of fertilizer throughout the season.

It is important to note that over-fertilizing can actually harm the grass and lead to reduced yield. For this reason, it is recommended that you perform soil tests on your plot of land to determine the exact nutrient requirements of your Reed Canary Grass.

In summary, regular fertilization is key to growing healthy Reed Canary Grass. Using a well-balanced fertilizer with an equal amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, starting early in the growing season, and performing soil tests to determine exact nutrient requirements can all help you achieve optimal growth and yield.

My Favorite Fertilizers For Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

When it comes to fertilizing Reed Canary Grass, there are a number of different options that can be considered. This hardy grass is known for its ability to thrive in a variety of soil types, but it still requires certain key nutrients in order to grow strong and healthy.

One of the most important nutrients for Reed Canary Grass is nitrogen, which helps to promote lush growth and keep the leaves green and healthy. A good fertilizer for this grass should contain a significant amount of nitrogen, and can be applied using a variety of different methods. Some people prefer to use a slow-release fertilizer that releases nutrients gradually over time, while others prefer a more traditional fertilizer that needs to be applied more frequently.

In addition to nitrogen, Reed Canary Grass also benefits from other key nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium. These nutrients help to promote strong root growth and improve overall plant health. A good fertilizer for this grass should contain a balanced blend of all three nutrients, with nitrogen being the main focus.

When choosing a fertilizer for Reed Canary Grass, it’s important to consider factors such as the pH of the soil, the climate and weather patterns in your area, and the specific needs of the grass. Take the time to do some research and find a fertilizer that is specifically designed for this type of grass, and follow the instructions carefully to ensure that you’re applying it correctly. With the right fertilization strategy, you can help your Reed Canary Grass to thrive and stay healthy year-round.

Harvesting Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Time To Maturity

Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) is a tall, perennial grass that is commonly found in wetland habitats. As for the time it takes for this plant to go from sprouting to maturity, it can vary depending on a variety of factors.

In general, Reed Canary Grass will typically germinate within 7-10 days of being planted in soil that is consistently moist. Once it has sprouted, the plant can begin to grow quite rapidly, often reaching heights of up to 6 feet in just a few months.

However, typically it takes at least 2-3 growing seasons before Reed Canary Grass reaches maturity. During this time, the plant will continue to produce new shoots and leaves, growing taller and denser with each passing year.

Once it reaches maturity, Reed Canary Grass will produce tall, feathery seedheads in late summer, which are often harvested for use in hay production or forage.

Overall, the process of growing Reed Canary Grass from sprout to maturity can take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on a range of factors including soil quality, weather conditions, and cultural practices. However, with proper care and attention, this plant can be a valuable addition to many wetland or pasture ecosystems.

Harvest Instructions

Harvesting Reed Canary Grass is a straightforward process, but it does require some preparation and strategy. Before you get started, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and when to harvest.

Reed Canary Grass is typically harvested in late summer, when the leaves and stems are at their most mature and have the highest nutritional value. It’s important to wait until the plant has reached the desired height and thickness before harvesting, to ensure that you get the most out of your harvest.

When you’re ready to harvest, the first step is to cut the plants down to ground level. You can do this using a scythe or weed whacker, but be careful not to damage the roots or the surrounding vegetation. Once the plants are cut, you’ll need to let them dry out for a few days before you can begin the next phase.


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After the plants have dried, you can start bundling them together into small bunches or stacks. Be sure to tie them tightly, so they don’t fall apart during transport or storage. Once the bundles are secured, you can use a pitchfork or other tool to load them onto a wagon or truck for transport.

When it comes to storage, Reed Canary Grass is best kept in a dry, well-ventilated area. You can store the bundles in a barn, shed, or other covered area, but be sure to keep them away from any sources of moisture. If you’re storing the grass for animal feed, you’ll want to keep it in a separate area from any other feed or grain to prevent cross-contamination.

Overall, harvesting Reed Canary Grass requires a bit of work and attention to detail, but the end result is worth it. With the right strategy and preparation, you can enjoy a bountiful and nutritious harvest that will provide a valuable resource for your animals or garden.

My Favorite Tools For Harvest Time

If you’re planning on harvesting Reed Canary Grass, there are a few key tools and pieces of equipment that will make the job easier and more efficient.

First, you’ll need a sickle or scythe for cutting the grass. Look for a tool with a sharp blade and a comfortable grip, as you’ll be using it for extended periods of time. A curved blade will also help you get closer to the ground, making it easier to cut the grass cleanly.

Next, you’ll need a rake for gathering up the cut grass. A wide, sturdy rake will help you collect as much grass as possible in each pass. Look for a rake with sturdy tines that can withstand the weight of wet grass.

If you have a large area to harvest, a hay baler can be a useful investment. This machine compresses the cut grass into bales, making it easier to transport and store. However, if you’re only harvesting a small amount of grass, you can skip this step and simply pile the cut grass in a cart or trailer for transport.

Finally, don’t forget about personal protective equipment. Long pants, gloves, and closed-toed shoes are essential for protecting your skin from cuts and scratches. Eye protection is also recommended, especially if you’re using a sickle or scythe.

With the right tools and equipment, harvesting Reed Canary Grass can be a rewarding activity. Just be sure to take proper safety precautions and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any machinery you use.

End of Season & Overwintering

As the end of the growing season approaches, it’s important to properly care for your Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) to ensure its survival throughout the winter months. Here are some tips to help you overwinter your grass and maximize its growth potential next season.

Firstly, you’ll want to make sure that your Reed Canary Grass is healthy and free from any diseases or pests. This can be achieved by regularly inspecting the plant for signs of damage or illness and treating it accordingly.

Next, it’s important to cut back the plant to a height of about 6-8 inches. This will help to prevent damage to the grass during the colder months and encourage healthy growth in the spring.

If you live in an area with harsh winters, you may want to consider covering your Reed Canary Grass with a layer of protective mulch or straw. This will help to insulate the plant and prevent damage from the cold.

It’s also important to keep the soil around the plant moist throughout the winter. This can be achieved by regularly watering the grass, but be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot.

Finally, you may want to consider fertilizing your Reed Canary Grass in the fall, as this will help to nourish the plant and prepare it for the winter months. Use a slow-release fertilizer and apply according to the instructions.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your Reed Canary Grass remains healthy and strong throughout the winter months and will be ready to burst back to life in the spring.

Final Thoughts on Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

In conclusion, growing Reed Canary Grass may seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be a rewarding experience. Proper germination, watering, and care can lead to a bountiful harvest of nutritious and versatile grass. Whether you’re using it for grazing, hay, or even landscaping, Reed Canary Grass can provide great benefits to both the environment and its users. So don’t be intimidated, get started on your Reed Canary Grass garden today and enjoy the fruits (or grass) of your labor!

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea)

Q: What are the growing conditions required for Reed Canary Grass?
A: Reed Canary Grass thrives best in moist and fertile soils, with a pH range between 5.5 and 7.5. It grows well in full sun, but can also tolerate partial shade. However, it is recommended to avoid planting this grass on soils prone to waterlogging, as it can hamper its growth.

Q: How long does it take Reed Canary Grass to reach maturity?
A: Reed Canary Grass can take up to 2-3 years to establish itself fully and reach maturity. However, this can vary depending on the growing conditions, such as the quality of the soil, availability of water, and amount of sunlight.

Q: How do I maintain and harvest Reed Canary Grass?
A: Reed Canary Grass requires regular maintenance, such as mowing and fertilizing to encourage dense growth. It is recommended to mow this grass at least twice a year, once in the spring and again in late summer. The best time to harvest Reed Canary Grass is when it is in the boot stage, usually around late May to early June, as this period offers the highest yield of forage quality. It is important to store the harvested grass in a cool, dry area, to avoid mold development.

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