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Pheasants tail grass


Looking for your experience of hard pruning/care of established pheasants tail grass (anemanthele lessoniana). I have a lot bordering our pond and they're very brown - not dead - but not very attractive as there's only a little green. 

General advice online, and from Monty Don recently on tv, seems to be to tease out the brown with your fingers, this doesn't work very well I've been trying today, it generally needs to be cut out, perhaps I've left it too late - the plants are 3 years old and I've not done this each Spring to date.

I think I'll have to hard prune it down but as it's an evergreen grass it'll be a fine line to tread not to kill it. 

Has anyone done this with pheasants tail? And if so how much did you cut?

I'll post up a pic if it helps, but I'll need to power the computer up.image




  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,299

    These seed around and I dump the old brown ones and let the youngsters take over.

    I think you'd have to cut it right back to make it look good again, unless you remove each brown blade, one at a timeimage



    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,360

    These are not the type of grasses you should cut down to the ground, it is quite likely to kill them.

    I do as Nut says, and replace the old ones, with self sown seedlings.

    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • Hi Nut, Punk, thanks for your comments.

    Problem is, I have 60 of them surrounding a pond which would be quite a long process to replace with seedlings. Pic enclosed.

    I've been trying to remove the brown to make way for the green - one blade at a time as Nut mentioned - and it's soul destroying! Understand they can't be cut right down like the deciduous grasses, but do you think I could cut down by half or two thirds?




  • Hi Verdun, looks like you were posting already whilst I was loading a pic 


    Mine definitely look 'tatty', maybe I'll try cutting to halfway and see what happens. Thanks.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,299

    I see what you mean.I'd just hack and see what happens. I like the flowers so always have seedlings. My garden has a relaxed style and I like to see flowers have seeds and seedlings.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • image

    Thanks both, hack (half) away it is then 

  • Hi, I know it has been a while, but what did you end up doing and what was the outcome.  I have same issue.  After 3rd year, it became very large and brown.  I am dying to cut it down to the ground...Thanks!
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,959
    Wrong time of year for cutting them back, better to wait until spring.
    They need yearly maintenance, so if you haven't tidied them annually, it's best to replace, as per the previous advice on this thread. Once they get predominantly brown, it's tricky to rejuvenate them. Some grasses are easier than others to maintain  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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