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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.



Quick 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.
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 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 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. 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.


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