Virtues: Mexican feathergrass contributes movement to the garden with its elegant foliage and flower heads. This ornamental grass maintains a compact size and shape. It is highly tolerant of drought once its roots are established in the soil.
Common name: Mexican feathergrass, finestem needlegrass
Botanical name:Nasella tenuissima, synonym Stipa tenuissima
Exposure: Full to part sun
Season: Summer through late fall, for foliage, flowering and seed heads
Flowers: Creamy inflorescences appear in early summer, developing an overall feathery appearance. Their color deppens to a warm tan in the autumn.
Foliage: Narrow green blades that turn tan in the fall
Habit: This ornamental grass begins growth as the weather warms in mid-spring. It creates a neat clump of foliage measuring 18 to 24 inches tall and wide, with a mounded, arching shape.
Origins: This grass is native to mountains of west Texas, New Mexico and Mexico.
How to grow Mexican feathergrass: Site this grass in full sun or part shade, in average soil that drains well. Keep the plant watered until it is established in the garden; thereafter it can tolerate drought. Remove old foliage in late winter to make room for new growth, which should commence by the middle of spring. USDA Zones 7–9. It may survive Zone winters if it is provided with a winter mulch and the drainage remains excellent through winter.
Note: Mexican feathergrass has been reported as invasive in California, especially Southern California. Its spread is by seed.
Image credit: Nick Kurzenko / iStock / Getty Images