Bear grass scientific Name is Xerophyllum tenax and the plant is a wild plant that is native to Pacific Northwest up into British Columbia and southwest to Alberta. The beargrass plant in gardens actually has a striking perennial presence with its large, fluffy flower heads and arching foliage. The beargrass plant is also quite easy to grow with high frost tolerance and low nutrient needs. Continue reading to learn how to grow beargrass plant and also why is it called bear grass.  


Bear grass Description

Beargrass plant are found around western North America in late spring to early summer, you may see fields of slender, arching foliage with huge, fluffy, white flower heads. Actually beargrass is protected in some of its native range, so if you want to start growing beargrass in gardens you can use the seed or transplant an offset from a garden buddy’s plant. The beargrass plant has slender grass-like stems that may get three feet long. The beargrass plant is an evergreen perennial that is found in open woods, sunny clearings in dry or wet soil. The plant is primarily in cool, subalpine zones. The flowers occur on a thick, fleshy stem that can get up to six feet in height. beargrass flower is a thick cluster of scented, white, tiny blooms. Depending on the cultivar, the scent is reminiscent of lilacs or musty old socks. The beargrass plant fruits are 3-lobed dry capsules. As the beargrass plant matures, the plant develops offsets that can be harvested for propagation. The beargrass seeds should be harvested fresh and also be planted immediately or dried and stored in a dark, cool location. The beargrass plant is a favorite of not only bears but also rodents and elk. The beargrass plant also attracts pollinating insects.


Bear Grass Growing Conditions

Actually growing beargrass plant from seed is very straightforward, though the plants won’t produce flowers for a couple of years. Propagating the plant by rhizome is quicker and it will flower the first year. If you have harvested the beargrass seed, the seeds will need stratification before it will germinate. You can do this in your refrigerator for twelve to sixteen weeks or plant the beargrass seed in the fall and let nature do the process for you. Sow the beargrass seed at a depth of about ½ inch deep directly to the garden bed in late fall. If you are sowing in spring you can easily pre-soak the beargrass seed in distilled water for about twenty-four hours to encourage seed germination. To harvest offsets you can cut carefully around the parent plant where the offset is attached. Excavate under the little beargrass plant and then use a sharp, clean knife to sever the pup. Make sure the roots are attached to the offset. Plant them immediately in humus-rich soil with a lot of grit added for drainage. 

Furthermore, the newly planted beargrass seeds should be watered sparingly to prevent rot. The beargrass seeds outdoors will usually receive enough rainfall from natural spring precipitation. Provide the young beargrass plants average water but they don’t need fertilizer. You can use organic mulch to prevent competitive weeds and also conserve soil moisture. The mature beargrass plants will benefit from the removal of the spent flower head. Make sure you prune off any damaged leaves. The beargrass plant in the wild is often a pioneer species that appears and then goes away when the taller plants start colonizing. The plant is also one of the first plants to appear after a fire. The beargrass plant is actually having a hard time surviving in the wild due to habitat loss and logging.  

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