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Basket grass or botanically Oplismenus hirtellus, [oh-PLIS-mee-nus] [HER-tuh-lus], is part of the Poaceae family and found on every continent except Antarctica.
While it grows almost everywhere, it’s mostly found in the subtropical and tropical regions, including Australia, Madagascar, and Hawaii.
The common name for the plant is basket grass, perfectly describing oplismenus hirtellus.
It’s technically a grass and often grown in a basket as a hanging plant.
It looks a lot like the Wandering Jew plant, as both plants tend to grow down over the basket before curving upward.
When you look closer, you’ll notice the plant has very thin leaves instead of thick, succulent foliage.
Oplismenus Basket Grass Care
Size and Growth
Oplismenus grass has a light and airy look, with its long, thin stems and leaves.
The leaves are green and have tiny white stripes with a very faint pink.
It’s a fast-growing plant, requiring trimming to help encourage bushier growth.
If left to grow, the stems may reach up to two feet.
While the plant can live for many years, it tends to wither with time.
When the leaves grow on an older plant, they often appear faded.
The stems also start to produce fewer leaves, resulting in a scraggly appearance.
Flowering and Fragrance
Mature plants may flower in the summer, but it’s mostly grown for its hanging leaves.
The flowers are small and insignificant.
Light and Temperature
Basket grass is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, covering most of the southern half of the United States.
It cannot survive outdoors in temperatures below 50° degrees Fahrenheit.
When kept indoors, the average room temperature is fine for Oplismenus.
The plant requires lots of sunlight, even in the winter, but doesn’t like direct sunlight.
Keep basket grass in a sunny spot throughout the year.
Watering and Feeding
Never allow the plant to dry out completely. Use ½ strength balanced liquid fertilizer for plants in the summer, every few weeks, and not at all in the winter.
Water Oplismenus grass regularly during the warmer months and less frequently in the winter.
Soil and Transplanting
The plant grows well in regular potting soil and may need regular repotting until it matures.
Older plants rarely need transplanting, as the leaves fall off and regrow each year.
Grooming and Maintenance
Groom the plant with regular pruning to promote bushier growth.
It also helps extend the life of the plant, delaying the inevitable decline when the plant starts producing fewer leaves.
Trim back the stems to the edges of the container or basket.
Cut basketgrass in the early spring, before the plant starts growing again.
As new stems grow, the plant will appear thicker.
How to Propagate Oplismenus
The best way to propagate Oplismenus is by cuttings.
As the plant tends to get scraggly with age, propagating provides a way to keep the plant going.
- Take cuttings when trimming back the bare stems in the spring.
- When selecting cuttings, use shoots with at least two nodes.
- Place six to eight cuttings together in a pot.
- Use regular potting soil combined with perlite or porous propagating soil.
- For best results, use three-parts soil to one-part perlite.
- Cover the cuttings with a plastic bag and poke holes for ventilation.
- Make sure the cuttings remain in a room kept at 60° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wait until the cuttings start producing leaves before removing the plastic bag.
- When the young plants are strong and healthy, transplant them to individual pots or baskets.
- Grow in regular potting soil, using the plant care tips discussed.
Basketgrass grows fast. Within a year, you should have another bushy, hanging plant.
Basketgrass Pests or Diseases
Spider mites commonly present a problem for basket grass. Keep an eye out for these pests to stop infestations as they appear.
Check the bottom of the leaves for small black or red dots. Spray the leaves with water to remove the mites.
If the spider mite infestation already spread, use miticide to kill the critters and save the plant.
Aphids are another potential threat. Spray the pests off with water or take the plant outdoors and shake it.
There are also a couple of signs that the plant is not getting the best care.
If the white stripes on the leaves go away, the plant is getting too much fertilizer or not enough sunlight.
Move the plant to a brighter spot and stop fertilizing until conditions improve.
Fertilizing the plant when the soil is dry may cause scorched leaves.
This is also a problem when the plant gets direct sunlight.
Move to a shadier spot and stop fertilizing.
Uses For Basket Oplismenus Grass
People almost always grow basket grass in baskets. Hang multiple plants in walkways or porches to create a breezy atmosphere.
It also looks great when placed on a pedestal, allowing the stems to flow over the pot and toward the ground.