How to Grow Frost Grass – Spodiopogon

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Spodiopogon – commonly called Frost grass or Graybeard grass–is an ornamental grass that somewhat resembles bamboo. It is architectural in form with right-angled leaves emerging from clumps and spirelike airy flower spikes. Spodiopogon takes on a purplish to frosty white tint in late autumn and winter–thus the common name frost grass.

The flowers and foliage of Spodiopogon make it an interesting accent plant alone or in groups. It is a good addition to small gardens and perennial borders.

Get to know Spodiopogon 

  • Plant type: Ornamental grass 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 4 to 8 
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 4
  • Height and width: 3 feet to 5 feet tall in flower and 3 feet wide (.9m—1.5m in flower—.9m) 
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Form and habit: Fan-shaped 
  • Foliage: Bold, dark green foliage that becomes brown with streaks and tinges deep purplish red in autumn 
  • Flowers: Long-lasting flowers are 3 to 4 inches wide, 8 to 12 inches long and rise 14 to 18inches above the foliage, giving a very airy quality.
  • Bloom time: Late summer into autumn
  • Uses: Single specimen, planted in a group, or in masses 
  • Garden companions: Late season perennials, such as aster and stonecrop; or place it in front of evergreens that will highlight its airy flowers 
  • Common name: Graybeard grass, Frost grass 
  • Botanical name: Spodiopogon 
  • Family name: Poaceae
  • Origin: Temperate southeastern Asia

Where to plant Spodiopogon 

  • Plant Spodiopogon in full sun to shade; it will also grow in deeper shade but may require staking. 
  • Plant Spodiopogon in moist, well-drained soil. 

When to plant Spodiopogon 

  • Plant container-grown Spodiopogon in the garden in spring or autumn.
  • Planting and spacing Spodiopogon 

    • Plant Spodiopogon 4 feet (1.2m) apart. 

    How to water and feed Spodiopogon 

    • Keep Spodiopogon continuously moist, eiter with regular watering or rainfall. 
    • Feed Spodiopogon with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring. 

    How to care for Spodiopogon 

    • Cut Spodiopogon to the ground when foliage withers after frost.  

    Spodiopogon pests and diseases 

    • Spodiopogon is not often bothered by pests or diseases.

    Spodiopogon propagation 

    • Divide Spodiopogon in spring or autumn.
    • Ripe seed can be started in containers in a cold frame in autumn.

    Spodiopogon varieties to grow 

  • Sporiopogon sibericus, frost grass
  • Written by Stephen Albert

    Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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