Growing Yellow-Eyed Grasses In The Garden

Growing Yellow-Eyed Grasses In The Garden

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Image by surasit bunnet

Yellow-eyed grass plants (Xyris spp.) are herbaceous wetland plants with grassy leaves and narrow stalks, each bearing one or two, three-petaled yellow or white flowers at the very tip. The yellow-eyed grass family is large, containing over 250 species found across the world. Although hardiness varies, most yellow-eyed grass varieties are suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 and above. Read on to learn how to grow yellow-eyed grass in your garden.

Growing Yellow-Eyed Grasses

Plant yellow-eyed grass seed in a cold frame outdoors, or directly in the garden in fall. Yellow-eyed grass thrives in moist, well-drained soil.

Alternatively, stratify the seed in the refrigerator for two weeks. To stratify the seeds, place them in a handful of damp peat moss within a plastic bag. After two weeks, plant the seeds indoors. Keep the potting moist and watch for the seeds to germinate in nine to 14 days.

Transplant the seedlings into a sunny garden spot after all danger of frost has passed in spring. If your climate is hot, yellow-eyed grass benefits from a little afternoon shade.

You can also propagate yellow-eyed grass plants by dividing mature plants.

If conditions are favorable, yellow-eyed grass will self-seed.

Caring for Yellow-Eyed Grass Plants

Feed yellow-eyed grass yearly in early spring, using a light application of low-nitrogen fertilizer.
Water this wetland plant regularly.

Divide yellow-eyed grass every two to three years. Early spring is the best time for this task.
Cut back foliage before new growth appears in early spring.

Yellow-Eyed Grass Varieties

Northern yellow-eyed grass (Xyris montana): Also known as bog yellow-eyed grass or montane yellow-eyed grass, this plant is found in bogs, fens and peatlands of the northeastern and north-central United States and Northern and Eastern Canada. It is threatened due to habitat destruction, changes in land use and recreational activities.

Twisted yellow-eyed grass (Xyris torta): Larger than most varieties, northern yellow-eyed grass displays distinct, twisted stems and leaves. It grows along shores and in wet, peaty or sandy meadows. Twisted yellow-eyed grass, found in the central and eastern United States, is threatened due to habitat destruction and encroachment of invasive plants. It is also known as slender yellow-eyed grass.

Small’s yellow-eyed grass (Xyris smalliana): In the United States, this plant is found primarily along boggy coastal plains from Maine to Texas. Don’t be deceived by the name; this plant reaches heights of about 24 inches (61 cm.). Small’s yellow-eyed grass was named for a botanist named Small.

Drummond’s yellow-eyed grass (Xyris drummondii Malme): Drummond’s yellow-eyed grass grows in coastal areas from east Texas to the Florida Panhandle. While most yellow-eyed grass varieties bloom in spring and summer, this type flowers a little later – in summer and fall.

Tennessee yellow-eyed grass (Xyris tennesseensis): This rare plant is found in small sections of Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. Tennessee yellow-eyed grass is endangered due to habitat loss and degradation, including clearcutting.

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