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The reed grass, which is becoming increasingly popular in gardens, has a decorative effect. When it comes to proper care, it mainly depends on the requirements of the respective variety, of which not every one is an optimal choice for the home garden. You can find out everything you need to know about reeds and the right care for them here from the plant expert.


There are many different types of reed, but they all have one thing in common: a touch of sea idyll that fills the home garden. The botanically named reed is usually a very frugal plant, but still requires professional care, which differs from other grasses/plants in many respects. The most important points on the subject of care and possible reed grass varieties are summarized for you by the plant expert.


"Reed" is mostly used as a generic term for tubular plants in wetlands and especially for reed grasses that are offered for garden planting. In the case of reed grass in particular, however, the designation does not always correspond to the actual definition.

In botany, "reed" stands for reeds, which are tall and herbaceous vegetation. These can be found at the edges of water and in shallow water. It forms its own biotope type in connection with certain other plants. These are composed of reeds "Phragmites", which is a widespread species of the genus of sweet grasses (Poaceae) worldwide.


Similar grasses are available, especially for garden planting, which have a reed-like growth and are used as ornamental grasses. These are either sweet grasses or belong to the plant family of sour grasses or sedges. Nevertheless, they are often offered as reed grasses, which they actually are not. They are sometimes difficult to tell apart visually. One of the main differences is that these "reed grasses" do not necessarily thrive in damp locations, but often prefer significantly drier soil conditions. Botanists therefore differentiate between "real reed grass" and "false shield grass" and also count some sour grasses as reeds.

reed varieties

Common reed grass (Phragmites australis)

Real or also called "common reed" is particularly suitable as a garden plant when authenticity is important and water banks need decorative planting that turns green in summer. They are ideal as a pond border. The Phragmites australis includes numerous subspecies and varieties. The best known in Germany include the following.

  • Phragmites australis - the most commonly found "common reed"
  • Phragmites australis "Aurea" - Reed that shines conspicuously with green-yellow leaves and grows up to two meters high
  • Phragmites australis subsp. "humilis" - Dwarf reed up to a meter high, but grows very wide
  • Phragmites karka - is rarely available in Europe as a "Candy Stripe" variety, distinctive green-yellow striped foliage, height up to two meters
  • Phragmites australis 'Pseudodonax' - Reed grass up to five meters high
  • Phragmites australis "Variegatus" - Reeds with yellow-green foliage and a height of up to 1.5 meters
Real reed grass

Cattail family (Typhaceae)

The bulrush family includes the bulrush and porcupine reeds as reeds. You notice the brown fruit cobs. Some specimens even tolerate dry soil conditions. Numerous types and varieties are available from them, such as those listed below.

  • Cattail Typha angustifolia - is a cattail with narrow leaves
  • Typha laxmannii - is one of the loose cattails
  • Typha latifolia - as a cattail equipped with broad leaves
  • Typha latifolia 'Variegata' - a cattail with variegated leaves
  • Typha minimal - as a small bulrush
bulrush plant

sweet grass plant

One of the most well-known types of sweet grass, and thus false reed grass, is Chinese reed (Miscanthus) with various types/varieties: Chinese reed also grows outside the edges of ponds and needs moist, but not necessarily swampy soil. It feels comfortable both outside and at the edge of ponds.

  • Chinese reed, Miscanthus sinensis - with a height of up to 2.50 meters and beautiful autumn colours
  • Giant Chinese Reed, Miscanthus × giganteus - up to four meters high, fast, dense growth, optimal privacy
  • Zebra/porcupine grass, Miscanthus sinensis "Strictus" - with a height of up to 1.75 meters, green-yellow, striped foliage
  • Chinese reed "Far East" - Miscanthus sinensis "Far East" - becomes around 1.60 meters tall reddish in autumn
  • Chinese reed "Malepartus", Miscanthus sinensis "Malepartus" - With a height of up to 1.75 meters, golden, red-brown autumn colour
zebra grass

sourgrass plants

The "fake" reed grasses (Cyperaceae) include around 5500 different species including subfamilies. They are mostly perennial herbaceous plants or perennials with a habit resembling grass. Rhizomes are not uncommon. A massive and/or pithy stem that is not hollow, as in the case of real reed grass, is another difference to sweet grasses or real reed grass. They love predominantly moist soils that should not be permanently soaked. The most popular types/varieties include the following.

  • Ball bulrush (Scirpoides holoschoenus) - Growth height between 30 centimeters and one meter, rarely up to 2.50 meters
  • Bulbous Cypergrass (Cyperus rotundus) - Growth height between 15 and 90 centimeters
  • Sea rush (Bolboschoenus maritimus) - Marsh plant with growth heights of 30 centimeters to 1.50 meters
Cyprus grass



As a rule, the reed grass species all have the same demands on a location. The only exception here are some false reeds, which do not like it quite as wet as real reed grass. Otherwise, you generally can't go wrong with the following location properties.

  • partially shaded to sunny, without direct midday sun
  • damp to wet soil - note the exceptions!!
  • sheltered location


Whether real reed grass or reed-like, it grows very dominantly and vigorously, so that it often crowds out neighboring plants. Therefore, it should either be kept as a monoculture, or a growth control should be integrated when planting. Special offers made of PP, PET, fleece or geotextile are available in the garden trade, which do not allow root growth to degenerate. Since most reed grass species grow very wide despite root control, it is important to ensure a correspondingly large planting distance. This is usually optimal when it is three times as large as the reed root.

planting time

The best time to plant is in spring, before growth begins. With some types of reed this is already in February/March, others should only be planted in April, such as Chinese reed. If you buy early reeds, May is the right time to plant them after the ice saints.

Chinese reed


While the real reed species need a certain amount of permanent moisture and get this especially on bank edges and in water bodies, the Chinese reed, for example, in the drier soil, especially in summer, cannot do without water from the watering can. Non-aquatic plants such as Chinese reed do not tolerate waterlogging.


Reed grass and drier Chinese reed are very frugal in terms of nutrients. Nevertheless, fertilizing is worthwhile, but this should only be started from the second year. Observe the following points when fertilizing reeds.

  • Fertilize only once a year, ideally in spring after pruning and before growth begins
  • in an "emergency" you can also fertilize in summer, but not after that
  • Work compost into the soil or water with liquid fertilizer
  • Over-fertilization damages the plant - so it is better to dose it small
  • Aquatic grasses, such as cattails, are not fertilized

To cut

Real and Chinese reed grass should be cut once a year. The best time for this is spring, depending on the species/variety between the end of February and April, before the first shoots appear. With the professional instructions it is easy to do.

  • Divide reed grass into individual bundles
  • Cut bundles in sequence
  • Cutting depth about a hand's breadth above the earth or water surface
  • if shoots have already formed, only cut off the outer stalks or do not cut back
  • never cut in autumn or winter, as there is an increased risk of rotting and frostbite

TIP: Before cutting, you should examine the grass for any animals that have established their winter quarters in it. These are often useful creatures that you should give them an undisturbed hibernation and wait until then to cut them.


The reeds are generally hardy provided they are not cut before winter sets in. In extreme sub-zero temperatures you should cover the roots of the Chinese grass roots with leaves, straw or pine needles. It is advisable to tie the grasses/tubes together. This protects the plants from the cold and also prevents dried grass from loosening and flying through the garden in strong winds. Frozen moisture, in which there are bank, swamp and water reeds, does not bother them.


Reed grasses are perfect for propagation in the home garden. You can easily do this yourself.

root division

The best time to do this is in spring, when pruning is due. Follow the instructions below and it will be easy.

  • expose the root after pruning
  • divide the root with a spade
  • Submerge the sectioned root area in a bucket of water until no more bubbles appear
  • Dig a planting hole at a suitable location
  • Planting hole should be twice as big as the root
  • use root control if necessary - for reeds close to ponds, always use to protect the liner
  • Place aquatic plants in a plant basket
  • for reeds that are drier, lay out drainage made of gravel or quartz sand on the planting soil
  • Center the plant
  • Fill up the soil and press down hard
  • pour well
  • do not fertilize in the first year

TIP: You can also make a division without a root. With a pickaxe, simply remove a piece of the part of the plant that you cut back and plant it again in a suitable place.


For sowing, you can buy "ready" seeds from the specialist market or collect them in late summer/autumn from the cobs of the reeds. The Phragmites reed is best suited for this, but there is also a chance of successful sowing with many other species/varieties. Keep these important details in mind.

  • Seed maturity is indicated when cobs have burst open
  • Sowing must be done immediately after collection, no later than the beginning of winter
  • Use a substrate for wet and aquatic plants that is muddy and nutritious


  • Fill the growing pot with substrate
  • press indentations into the substrate with your finger (about one to two centimeters deep)
  • put seed in it
  • Cover seeds loosely with substrate
  • Keep the substrate well moist, but avoid waterlogging
  • Cover the growing pot with translucent foil
  • Raise foil for watering and airing every two to three days
  • Recommended ambient temperature between 17 degrees Celsius and 21 degrees Celsius
  • Location sunny without direct sunlight
  • as soon as the first green has reached a height of about two centimeters, transplant into a normal pot
  • Put plants outside from May after the ice saints

TIP: Seeds from reeds standing in water will germinate faster and more safely if you simply place them in a clear, water-filled jar. After germination, it can be planted outside, as germinated water reed seeds are usually frost-resistant.

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