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How to Grow Elymus — Wild Rye

Elymus magellanicus
Elymus magellanicus

Elymus–commonly called wild rye–is a clump-forming grass often with gray to blue-gray linear leaves. The leaves are linear, flat, or occasionally rolled and bear bristled flower spikes in summer. Elymus makes a colorful vertical addition to a rock garden or to a mixed or herbaceous border.

Elymus is a genus of about 150 species of tufted or rhizomatous perennials grasses. Botanists have moved some of the species in this genus to the genus Leymus.

The species Elymus magellanicus is perhaps the most ornamental of the genus. It is a cool-weather grass whose foliage is blue.

Get to Know Elymus

  • Plant type: Perennial grass
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 3-9 depending on the variety
  • Height and width: 6 inches to 6 feet tall and 12 to 24 inches apart depending on the variety
  • Foliage: Linear, flat or occasionally rolled leaves
  • Flowers: Thick or slender, bristled flwoer spikes with flattened, stalkless spiklets
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Rock garden, mixed or herbaceous border
  • Common name: Wild rye
  • Botanical name: Elymus
  • Family name: Poaceae
  • Origin: Widely distributed through Northern and Southern temperate regions
Elymus canadensis
Elymus canadensis

Where to Plant Elymus

  • Grow Elymus in full sun.
  • Grow Elymus in fertile, moist but well-drained soil.

When to Plant Elymus

  • Set container-grown Elymus outdoors in spring.

Planting and Spacing Elymus

  • Space Elymus 12 to 24 inches apart.

How to Water and Feed Elymus

  • Elymus grows best in moist soil.
  • Fertilize Elymus with a high nitrogren organic fertilizer in spring.

Elymus Care

  • Some Elymus can be invasive. Watch for the plant to spread and control it.

Elymus Pests and Diseases

  • Elymus is susceptible to damping off, ergot, cat-tail, powdery mildew, rust, smut, brown patch, and other fungla spots and blights.

Elymus Propagation

  • Sow Elymus seed where you want it to grow in autunn or spring.
  • Divide Elymus from midsprig to early summer.

Elymus Varieties to Grow

  • Elymus canadensis, Canadian wild rye. Loosely tufted perennial gras with erect stems bearing linear, flat, or rolled green to blue-green leavs; dense green flowers appear in summer; grows 4 to 6 feet tall and 24 inches wide.
  • E. hispidus, blue wide rye. Loosely tufted perennial grass wit erect or archig linear pale silvery blue leaves; grows to 30 inches tall and 16 inches wide.
  • E, magellanicus, Magellan wheatgrass. Densely tufted, mound-forming perennial gras with linear or flat intense blue leaves; grows to 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide.

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