Ornamental Grass Looks Dead – 6 Causes (With Cures)

Graceful ornamental grass with pinkish plumes swaying in the breeze, with a blurred green background for contrast.

Ornamental grasses are a jewel in any landscape where they are planted.

Apart from beautifying your environment, the grass creates a unique pattern that makes your landscape stand out. Although these grasses are low-maintenance, they also have various problems. That’s why if you notice that your ornamental grass is turning brown or yellowish, you should discover the problem and fix it before it is too late.

Various things can cause your ornamental grass to look dead or die slowly.

We’ve highlighted most of the possible causes and how to fix them. Continue reading to find out.

1. Insect Infestation

Insects on the grass can also cause your ornamental grass to die. Identifying whether the insects are the ones causing the death of your plants or not is easy. Simply run your fingers up and down a blade of grass that is in the soil to find out. Aphids and mites are the most common types of insects that attack ornamental grass.

For instance, aphids kill grass when they suck out the sap. They are normally found on the underside of blades, while mites suck the juices from the blades, making the infected parts yellow. Unlike aphids that you can see with your naked eye, mites cannot be seen.

However, you can see their webbing on the grass.

How To Fix It

Getting rid of insect infestations on your ornamental grass is easy. As long as the ornamental grass is healthy, it will resist insects and other pests. For this reason, you should care for your ornamental grass by watering and fertilizing it as needed. Never allow your plants to become extremely dry, as mites are attracted to dusty environments.

Besides, you can get rid of mites and aphids on the plants by spraying them with insecticidal soap spray. Don’t use poisonous chemicals that may kill beneficial insects.


2. Overwatering

If your ornamental grass starts to brown, then it may be due to overwatering. Most types of ornamental grass don’t need overwatering as they don’t thrive in incredibly moist soil. After watering your ornamental grass, you should give it some time before re-watering. This will ensure that your grass doesn’t lack water or has excess water.

On the same note, if you don’t water your ornamental grass properly, it will brown and die.

How To Fix It

Make sure your plant is properly watered and not under-or over-watered. Your plant will grow smoothly and without any issues as long as it is fed with the right fertilizer.

3. Poor Care

Some people plant ornamental grass without considering what is needed to make it grow well and healthy. As a result, failure to care for the ornamental grass may cause it to die. First and foremost, ornamental grass cannot be grown in any climate. They prefer a sunny climate with some exceptions, such as fountain grass, maiden grass, and sea oats, which can thrive in partial shade.

Most ornamental grasses need well-drained soil and a sunny climate. The only exception is umbrella grass, which does well in muddy conditions.

How To Fix It

If you’re not taking care of your ornamental grass, you should start doing so. Ensure that the conditions are right and that you’re growing the right type of ornamental grass for your location. Also, you should check the grass often for diseases and pests and keep animals from eating it.

4. Diseases

There are various diseases that can attack your grass and kill it. Some of the common diseases include powdery mildew, grass, and smut. Let’s start with the powdery mildew. This is a fungal disease that can be spotted by powdery blotches on the leaves. In severe cases, the powdery blotches may cover the entire ornamental grass. This problem is common in shady areas where powdery mildew builds up in warm, humid conditions.

Rust is another disease that hurts your grass. It appears on the blade of the grass as a small reddish-orange or yellow blister. And when the disease spreads further, it changes to brown or yellow. In the worst-case scenario, the grass blades might wilt or die.

How To Fit It

For powdery mildew, you can stop its spread by applying a commercial fungicide. Additionally, you should plant ornamental grass in sunny areas where fungi won’t develop easily. And for rust, you can stop its spread by getting rid of affected sections of the grass turning brown.

Also, you should water the plant from the base instead of overhead watering, which promotes the growth of rust.

5. Attacked by animals

Deer, rabbits, and slugs may also destroy the ornamental grass. These may kill the plant entirely if they feed on it more regularly. Slugs eat blades, which may lead to the death of your grass. Rabbits also destroy the grass, but not to the same extent as larger animals such as deer. If you notice a small section of your ornamental grass is chewed, then you should look out for rabbits in your area.

And if a huge part of your grass is destroyed, then that is a deer.

How To Fix It

The good thing is that you can prevent your grass from being destroyed by identifying the animal attacking your plant. If it’s a slug, you can make a trap for it and dispose of it. If it’s a rabbit, you can use a rabbit repellent. And for deer, you can also use a repellent to deter them from coming close to your plant.

6. Aged Plant

When ornamental grass gets older, the center of the grass usually dies. If this happens, you should divide the grass and plant it again.

How To Fix It

The best time to divide and plant your old ornamental grass is during the spring before new growth starts.

Why Is Ornamental Grass Dying in the Middle?

Many are curious to know why their ornamental grass is dying in the center. Is the grass genuinely dying or drying in the center? After making several observations, it was decided that the following and other things can cause the grass in the middle of your ornamental grass plant to wilt and die:


When an ornamental grass becomes infected, the first blades to die are those in the center. It is crucial to note, however, that ornamental grass is a hardy plant.

Plant with roots.

When this happens, not only will the inner blades dry up (and eventually die), but the tips of your plant’s outer blades will also begin to dry out.

Water concerns

If you do not understand how much water ornamental grass requires, you may make a mistake. As it grows, you will need to water it every other day. However, once established, watering should be spaced out by 3 to 4 days.

If, on the other hand, the grass in the center is dead while the outer leaves are still alive, it implies that the plant has simply had it with life. To encourage new growth, you must pluck it out and divide it.

Final Thoughts

Ornamental grass creates a great effect in your yard. That’s why many homeowners include them in their residential landscapes. If you notice one of the above signs on your ornamental grass, then you should fix it quickly to prevent your plant from dying completely.

Pests, diseases, and animals won’t go away, but maintaining your ornamental grass properly will keep them at bay.

Graceful ornamental grass with pinkish plumes swaying in the breeze, with a blurred green background for contrast.

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