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Napier Grass: Its Significance and How to Grow

Napier grass, aka Pennisetum purpureum, aka elephant grass, is a tropical grass found in Africa. On its native continent, it is an important source of fodder for farm animals. It is also used to divert pests and insects away from other food crops like corn.

In the looks department, Napier grass is appealing to look at. Therefore, a lot of gardeners rely on it as an ornamental plant as well. You can propagate from cuttings or from root slips. It is important to weed the grass at proper intervals and water it regularly.

There are areas where super Napier grass grows naturally. However, if that is not the case where you live, you need to buy some saplings from platforms like In this article, you will learn several pro landscaper tricks that will help you to grow Napier grass in the most efficient way.

Fun Facts About Napier Grass aka Elephant Grass

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pennisetum purpureum
  • HABITAT: This plant loves the heat, and it can grow a range of soil from moderately dry to wet.
  • ORIGINS OF ELEPHANT GRASS: The Plant Village at Penn State University confirms that this tropical plant is a native of the African continent. Other than Napier, you might hear people call it Elephant Grass or Uganda Grass. It comes to the United States from the African lowland forests.
  • FULLY GROWN HEIGHT: Averages around 12 feet in height, but it can also grow to 15 feet in ideal conditions. 
  • IS IT INVASIVE? In parts of the United States, especially in Florida, this species can become problematic in the canal ways, where they block boat docks or beach access. Florida’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants even has a management plan in place to cope with it regularly. 
  • EDIBLE? This grass provides excellent nutrition for livestock. However, experts do not recommend this plant for human consumption.

Two Easy Methods for Growing Napier Grass

Let’s look at the two easiest ways to plant elephant grass.

Planting Method #1:

The first way is by cutting a mature stem of Napier grass and cutting the stem into sections with three nodes. This can be done using a knife and cutting the stem at a 45-degree angle. Then you need to dig holes wherever you wish to plant the plants. The holes should be deep enough to place three cuttings underneath the soil. If you wish to plant multiple plants, then make sure that the gap between each plant is equal. Adding fertilizers to each hole will ensure that the plant gets all the right nutrients.

Planting Method #2

The second growing method that you can utilize is growing Napier grass from the root slips. You’ll achieve this by cutting off the stem at ground level and removing all the green parts of the plant. This way, when only the portion is under the soil, and you can use the stem and leaves for compost or for animal feed.

Once you dig the hole, you can dig under the soil and get the bundle of roots and shoots. You can separate the clumps that have more than one grass shoots emerging from it. Some people prefer treating the cut-out slips with rooting hormone solution or manure before planting. When you dig, make sure that you keep the holes deep enough so that the shoot is left above the ground.

When you are done with planting the root slips, you need to fill in the holes with soil.

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Some final tips for caring for your Napier grass

Weeding your grass regularly is one of the most important things to do. If you are growing grass to feed livestock, then weeding is inevitable. Weed the crop for the first three weeks after planting it. Before harvesting, weed it three or four times more.

Napier grass is ready to harvest after almost eight weeks of growth if properly fertilized. Pay attention to fertilizing. Napier grass requires a lot of fertilizer, so make sure you fertilize it correctly. You need to dig trenches between the rows of grass and pour liquid manure into the trenches. Alternatively, you need to apply a top-dressing of NPK 20-20-0 fertilizer to the soil. Apply the fertilizer around the plants during periods of rainfall or before watering.

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Napier grass grows best in areas that get plenty of water. If your area does not get rain, then you need to make sure that you pay attention to watering the grass regularly. But make sure that you don’t get your grass waterlogged. Planting it somewhere that has good water drainage is a great idea to ensure that the plant grows in a healthy way.

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