How to Grow Tricholaena Plants

Guide to Growing Ruby Grass, Natal Redtop, and Natal Grass,

Although Tricholaena grasses are perennials they are usually grown as half hardy annuals in the garden.

They bloom from late spring to summer, and carry very attractive silky red flowers.

Some common names for Tricholaena include Natal Grass and Ruby grass.

Melinis repens
Melinis (Tricholaena) repens

Red Natal Grass
Red Natal Grass. Both photographs by John Tann under creative commons licence.

Tricholaena Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Ruby Grass, Natal Grass, Natal Redtop.
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 10 to 30 inches (25 to 75 cm).
Native: Southern Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 5 to 10. As a perennial in zones 9 and 10.
Flowers: Spring to summer and/or autumn.
Flower Details: Red, pink. Inconspicuous. Feathery panicles. Spikelets.
Foliage: Blueish-green. Linear. Thin.

Sow Outside: Cover seed. Beginning of spring. Spacing 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: two weeks to one month. Temperature 50°F (10°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Light soils. Regular watering to keep soil moist. Provide shelter.
Family: Poaceae.
Miscellaneous: Synonymous with Melinis and Rhynchelytrum. Invasive species in many areas.

How to grow Natal Grass and other Tricholaena Plants in the Garden

It is best to sow Ruby and Natal grass outdoors at the start of spring. Once sown lightly cover the seed.

The Tricholaena plants should be spaced from 30 to 45 cm apart (12 to 18 inches), and like most grasses should be grown in a sunny part of the garden.

The soil type is not overly important, but Natal grass will thrive in a light and well drained soil.

If starting off indoors, then sow natal grass seeds about seven weeks in advance. The Tricholaena seeds should take about three weeks to germinate at a temperature of 10 to 12 Celsius (50 to 54°F).

Transplant the young grass seedlings following the last frost of spring.

How to Care for Tricholaena Plant Species

It is quite easy to look after and care for Tricholaena plant species such as Ruby and Natal grasses.

They should not be grown in areas that experience strong winds, as they will flatten. Tricholaena plants thrive in a moist soil, so water moderately when required.

At the end of autumn, cut the plants back to the ground. If you require more plants then it is easiest to grow these grasses from seeds.

Common Questions

How many members does the Tricholaena genus have?

The Tricholaena genus includes approximately 12 species, mainly grown as ornamental grasses.

Do members of Tricholaena make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Tricholaena species are often used in landscaping due to their attractive, reddish-purple panicles.

Which Tricholaena species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most commonly grown species is Tricholaena rosea, known as Natal Redtop, a beautiful grass with rose-colored panicles.

Are members of the Tricholaena plant genus fragrant?

Tricholaena species are not known to be fragrant.

What is the perfect location to grow Tricholaena?

Tricholaena species thrive in full sun to partial shade and prefer well-drained soil.

Is Tricholaena invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Tricholaena is not listed as invasive in the USA. Always consult local regulations for the most up-to-date information.

How do I remove Tricholaena plants from my garden?

Tricholaena can be removed by pulling or digging up the plants, ensuring the entire root system is extracted.


The Tricholaena genus consists of perennial grasses native to Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. They are often used in ornamental plantings for their showy, reddish flower panicles.

Grow Tricholaena from seeds or divisions, usually in spring. They thrive in full sun and prefer well-drained soil. Regular watering is necessary, particularly during dry periods. Some species can become invasive, so it may be necessary to control their spread.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Tricholaena plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Aven and Miscanthus plants.