Stiltgrass: Barbarian at the Garden Gate


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Garden judges perform consistent and impartial evaluations of daylily performance in garden settings. Based on observations in their own region or a national convention, garden judges vote the AHS Awards and Honors ballot. Results of this voting focuses attention on daylilies which many garden judges consider outstanding garden performers in their regions. Garden Judges select the majority of AHS Cultivar Awards each year, including the Stout Silver Medal, AHS’s highest award given to a cultivar.

One class offering:
October 14 (7pm EST).
Free, online course for credit.

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Why is it a problem?
An invasive plant is basically one that harms the eco-system in which it arrives. Stiltgrass is an ecological threat because it spreads to form dense extensive patches, thus displacing many other species that are not able to compete with it. Deer do not eat stiltgrass and by selectively feeding only on surrounding plants they help the stiltgrass become a monoculture. The interaction between stiltgrass and the Northern Pearly Eye (Enodia anthedon) butterfly is being studied because its caterpillar eats only native grasses. The butterfly was once common, but it’s been observed that their populations crash when stiltgrass enters the environment. Further investigation is being done to study the potential impacts of stiltgrass on grass dependent butterflies and other insects that might try to utilize stiltgrass as an alternative host plant.

Article by:
Catskill Native Nursery, 845-626-2758
607 Samsonville Rd, Kerhonkson NY 12446 |

We are getting many questions about this invasive grass that has been finding its way into Hudson Valley gardens. So here is some information to get you started about controlling it if you already have an infestation, or find yourself with one in the near future which is very likely…

What is it?
Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) is

How to ID it:
Along with its jointed stem you can easily tell stiltgrass from other grasses by the silver line that goes down the center of the blades. It’s very easy to see when the light hits it and you can see it in the photo I posted.

What can you do about it?…
Hand Pulling:
For the home gardener, the best method to get rid of stiltgrass is to pull it BEFORE it goes to seed. It is shallow rooted and easy to pull, especially after a rain. You do not want to compost it because if it has been there for more than a year it is likely that its prolific seed is still present in the soil clinging to the roots, thus giving it a chance to germinate in your compost. If the grass is well established it might take a few seasons of hand pulling to exhaust the seed bank. Pile the pulled grass in an area where you can watch it and make sure it doesn’t sprout any new grass or cover it with a tarp to prevent germination.