How to plant napier grass

Updated February 21, 2017

Napier grass is also called Pennisetum purpureum and elephant grass. It is a tall-growing variety that resembles bamboo, according to the University of Florida. In addition to being used as an ornamental, the grass is planted in fields where herds forage to provide food for them. Unlike other grass types, Napier grass is not typically propagated by seed. Instead, dividing existing root clumps is the most common form of propagation.

Locate an existing clump of Napier grass that is at least 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Cut off the green blades as close to the ground as possible using pruning shears or hand pruners.

Insert a shovel at the edge of the growth and insert it all the way into the soil so that it is 6 to 8 inches deep. Lean back on the handle of the shovel to lift the Napier grass roots out of the soil.

Pull the root clump out of the ground and brush away the excess soil with your hands. Separate out each individual grass shoot with your fingers and lay them flat on a tarp or towel so that you do not lose them in the surrounding grass.

Pick up one shoot and place it against a ruler. Measure down 2 inches along the root and cut the root off at this location using hand pruners. Repeat the process to prune the remaining roots.

Walk around the planting site and look for a location that has moist but not soggy soil and either full or partial sunlight.

Dig a hole that is approximately 3 inches wide by 3 inches deep, using a hand spade. Fill the bottom of the hole with approximately 1 to 2 inches of compost or manure.

Insert one Napier grass shoot into the hole making sure that the short green upper section stays above the ground. Fill in the hole with soil and pack it down firmly with your hands.

Continue using this method to plant all remaining Napier grass shoots and then water the area thoroughly until the soil is completely moist.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears or hand pruners
  • Shovel
  • Tarp or towel
  • Ruler
  • Hand spade
  • Manure or compost
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About the Author

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.