Vegetative Growth
Flowering Plant

Reed Canary Grass


(Phalaris arundinacea)

This is a perennial grass species, with creeping roots (Rhizomes). In some parts of the world such as America and Canada, the species may be grown for livestock forage. In the UK reed canary grass is generally used to provide cover for farmland birds or game cover.


In the UK it is used to provide cover for wildlife and game birds. It may also be used to stabilise the banks of ponds and other watercourses.


This perennial species can last for 7 years or more.


It will grow in a range of soil types and survives in cold climates, due to its good frost tolerance. It is also longer lasting than canary grass.

Frost Tolerance


Sowing Rate Advice

3kg per acre / 7.5kg per ha

Drill in wide rows (60-90cm) to stop cover becoming overly thick.

Mixture Sowing Rate Advice

Usually sown as a pure stand

Ideal Sowing Time

Start sowing in spring from mid April to May.


When used for game cover, it is often cut annually to stop the cover becoming too dense.

Distinguishing characteristics


A small oblong shaped, seed which is a shiny brown colour. It is approximately 2 - 2.5mm in length.


Vegetative State

Flowering Plant

Flowering Plant
This is a stout, upright plant, with a green to whitish green colour. The leaves are smooth and hairless, with prominent membranous ligules and wide leaf blades, the surface maybe rough. The panicles are densely packed, but as it matures they become looser. Its roots form rhizomes which have a creeping habit. It can reach a height of 2 metres.

Additional Info

Flowers from June - August. Average seeds per kg - 1,200.000 Notably slow to establish in the first year, a short-term cover crop may be used to give cover in the first season. Ornamental forms are often seen in gardens, with noticeable green and white striped leaves.

Works well with

A short term annual species like Mustard can be broadcast directly after sowing and rolled together, or a cereal like Wheat / Barley can be drilled before sowing the Canary seed, to give more cover in year 1. Seed rates for nurse cover species should be low.


Native to the UK