Sorghum Species, Johnsongrass, Johnson Grass

Sorghum halepense

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sorghum (SOR-gum) (Info)
Species: halepense (ha-le-PEN-see) (Info)


Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


3-6 in. (7-15 cm)


USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:


Magenta (pink-purple)


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

New Market, Alabama

Clovis, California

Rumsey, California

Jacksonville, Florida

Watkinsville, Georgia

Vincennes, Indiana

Benton, Kentucky

Ewing, Kentucky

Frederick, Maryland

Cole Camp, Missouri

Farmington, Missouri

Jackson, Missouri

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Alvin, Texas

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Burleson, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Kaufman, Texas

Kemp, Texas

Mabank, Texas

Red Oak, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Santa Fe, Texas

Spicewood, Texas

Tyler, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 10, 2019, kkane from Davis, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant rivals yellow star thistle in its noxiousness (is that a word?). It crowds out annual and perennial row crops and steals nutrients from orchards. It is so hard to get rid of because it spreads so easily by the billions of seeds it produces every year, and the rhizomes. Bermuda grass on steroids, it has been called. Worst plant ever. No one plants this on purpose, do they?


On Oct 29, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This grass is naturalized in all the lower 48 states. 19 states have declared it a noxious weed.


On Jul 19, 2011, johnsongrassno1 from Noonday, TX wrote:

I am a 5th generation farmer in Texas. We have never had a cow, horse, or goat to die from johnsongrass; to the contrary, it has kept them alive. It is econmic to grow johnson grass for hay. I do not recommend it for grazing because animals grazing it will eat it down to the ground, which weakens re-growth. As a hay producing plant, it does not need to be planted, thus saving on seed, equipment, and fuel costs. When compared to man-made forages such as haygrazer, the production and protien quality is very close if it is pampered like the other forages--fertilized, airiated, and or irrigated. In a drought year such as we are having here in Texas, my sweet, loveable johnsongrass is the only feed available.


On Jun 7, 2007, AmandaTaylor7 from Alvin, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

HORRIBLE plant, I canNOT get rid of it!! It's in my front yard right on the corner and I've done everything - even KILLED the stuff with spray, pulled it by its roots, but I can't get rid of it! HELP!!!!!!!! It's taking over my yard!!!


On Dec 27, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Johnsongrass Sorghum halepense is naturalized in Texas and other States and is considered an invasive plant in Texas,


On Sep 30, 2006, Sherlock_Holmes from Rife, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

There might as well be at least one positive note about this plant. It may be invasive here in Pennsylvania according to what was said above, but Johnson Grass doesn't bother me in the least. In this area, it doesn't seem to pose much of a problem. Its not as invasive in these parts as it is said to be in many other places. I've never heard a complaint about it from a local person.

To me, it's a rather attractive plant. At least the flowering tops are anyway. Here the inflorescences can get to be a deep violet color and along the country roads, it looks quite charming when seen in a passing car. It's even more beautiful when observed up close during a walk in the countryside. It looks like a sea of purple at times in the fall.

I like to collect bunche... read more


On Feb 9, 2006, Dea from Frederick, MD (Zone 6a) wrote:

2 acres of Johnsongrass when we first moved in :( We mow and mow early, almost scalping the area. Then we rake with a heavy, long toothed attachment. We then mow again. After 5 years, we've got it mostly under control, but keeping it mowed early and often seems to be a key. We are fortunate to have a tractor.

Where it self seeds in our gardening areas is a different matter - hand pulling is all that works as it's mixed in with perennial beds. We usually spend 3-4 days early spring going at it and we never have licked it.

I concur with all the other comments regarding its razor sharp leaves; please wear heavy duty gloves when hand pulling.


On Sep 6, 2005, trois from Santa Fe, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

When I was young during the dustbowl days, we lost all our cattle due to their breaking down a fence to get to a patch of Johnsongrass. I remember the dispair of my folks at the sight of more than 50 head of cattle all dead. They were able to sell the hides for about 50 cents each. Total wipeout.
When in Highschool I worked for a farmer that was eradicating 400 acres of heavy infestation. We used a plough called a "Hammy" to cause the roots to be on top of the soil. It took almost 3 years of constant ploughing to get it under control.



On Feb 19, 2005, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This grass is the BANE of my existence, as it runs rampant through most of my farm. Root systems spread long & deep, making pulling/digging the stuff out impossible. And even though I am an organic gardener & have way too much of the stuff to spray anyway, I've heard that even the most potent of herbicides won't eradicate it without repeat applications.

Although in some parts of the country the mature plant is cut & dried for livestock hay, it IS true that when stressed - i.e. subjected to frost or drought conditions - the plant is quite toxic to livestock, especially horses (which I raise), & has also been known to cause unthriftiness in beef cattle. I believe the poisonous compound that becomes concentrated in the stressed plant is cyanide. Even the plentiful herds of ... read more


On Feb 18, 2005, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Johnson Grass is a noxious invasive weed introduced from the Mediterranean as a forage for livestock by William Johnson of Alabama in 1840. Clumps of it overrun pastures, it invades the lawn, and it's impossible to eradicate. The best bet to get rid of it is with Roundup. I have heard in times of drought the foliage can be poisonous to livestock.


On Nov 16, 2004, susan_simpson from Vincennes, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

actually, this weed is illegal in our community and if left to grow without cutting there have been citations with fines. It is hard if not impossible to irradicate, but must be kept cut short so it does not "seed" and reproduce even more.


On Nov 13, 2004, cherishlife from Pocola, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This WEED is definately on my hit list. Razor sharp edges make it very difficult to handle. Apparently being a perennial keeps it from dying out when mowed enough to keep the seeds down.

Information from

johnsongrass Noxious weed
johnsongrass C list (noxious weeds)
johnsongrass Noxious weed
johnsongrass Noxious weed
johnsongrass Noxious weed
johnsongrass Noxious weed
johnsongrass Noxious weed
johnsongrass Noxious weed
... read more


On Oct 25, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Extremely weedy in the Southeastern U.S., especially throughout much of Florida and in my south Florida area! Spreads everywhere, can grow through the gaps and cracks in a sidewalk or driveway, and crowds out native plants! One of the most invasive plants I've seen - I agree with all the comments about this plant! Please DO NOT PLANT THIS PLANT!

MORE FACTS - Johnsongrass is also invasive throughout much of the southern and possibly central U.S.


On Jun 17, 2004, jcangemi from Atascadero, CA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Farm irrigation canals in parts of the San Joaquin Valley have unfortunately been the cause of rampant growth of this awful weed. It is all but impossible to irradicate, once established. Ditto on all the above comments!!!


On Jun 16, 2004, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I agree with everything everyone above said. This plant is THE most invasive plant I've ever come across!


On Jun 13, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Invasive and nearly impossible to get rid of. Spread by hundreds of seeds or by roots....some nearly 2 feet deep.

Has even caused some farms and orchards to be abandoned because it is nearly impossible to irradicate.

It can also be poisonous to livestock during early stages of growth or during drought.


On Sep 25, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

I recommend being very careful when attempting to pull this plant by hand. The leaves can be almost razor-sharp, so care should be taken to ensure the soil is moist enough to be worked, wear gloves, and grasp the plant firmly near its base.

Unfortunately, most mechanical removal methods tend to leave enough rhizomes to bring forth another healthy stand of this weedy grass.


On Aug 24, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Johnsongrass is a vigorous, course, perennial grass with scaly root stalks capable of reproducing by underground rhizomes and seed that forms dense clumps .This plant has broad leaves and grows to a height of three to eight feet. The seeds developed in the fall are yellow to purplish in color, Johnsongrass is considered a weed in cultivated fields, waste places and along irrigation ditches and stream bottoms. Johnson grass is regarded as a major agricultural weed, especially in corn fields where it forms tall, dense stands. The dead stems and leaves of this perennial herb cover the ground all winter. It aggressively crowds out native species. When cut the underground rhizomes of Johnson grass resprout forming new plants. The plant is resistant to many common herbicides as well. These fac... read more