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Fiber Optic Grass

Isolepis cernua

Often found growing in wet places or peaty areas near the sea, fiber optic grass is native to western and southern Europe, British Isles, North Africa, the west coast of North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Although it looks like a grass, fiber optic grass is an evergreen species in the sedge family. This bright green, grass-like plant gets its name from its resemblance to a fiber optic lamp—multiple stems with tiny flower spikes at the tips. This easy-to-grow plant grows upright when it is young, then spills gracefully over the edges of containers or garden walls as it matures. When temperatures drop, the foliage may change from the bright green to yellow or brown.

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

6 to 12 inches

Width:

From 6 to 12 inches

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

10-11

Propagation

Colorful Combinations

Fiber optic grass retains its verdant green color all season long. It adds soft texture to containers and garden borders and requires little maintenance as long as it remains moist. On the tips of its leaves, fiber optic grass develops small seeds and flowers. These tiny flowers are cone-shape and begin white or silver, eventually turning tan or brown. The plants bloom year-round in warm climates. It is a delicate perennial and grown as an annual in colder climates. Fiber optic grass also works well when grown as a houseplant in a sunny window. Its small stature also makes it a perfect choice for miniature or fairy gardens.

See the top plants for fairy gardens here.

Fiber Optic Grass Care Must-Knows

Ideally, fiber optic grass prefers full sun and plenty of moisture—it will turn brown if allowed to dry out. Fiber optic grass can handle some shade but will become much looser in habit. When using fiber optic grass in a water garden, place in water and gradually increase the level. This gradual adjustment to the water allows the roots to get used to being constantly submerged. If planting near the water's edge, place fiber optic grass no more than 2 inches above the soil.

Discover more ways to use ornamental grasses in your landscape.

Fiber optic grass is easy to start from seed and will self-seed under the proper conditions. It is also easy to propagate when it outgrows its container. Just divide the plant into pieces and replant in the desired area or container. Spring is the best time to divide a plant that was overwintered outside. Remedy a too long and lanky plant with a simple "haircut." Fiber optic grass is deer-resistant and does not typically have pest issues.

See more of our favorite ornamental grasses.

More Varieties of Fiber Optic Grass

'Live Wire' fiber optic grass

This variety of Isolepis bears arching, rich green leaves on a 12-inch-tall mound.

Plant Fiber Optic Grass With:

Snapdragon
Few gardens should be without the easy charm of snapdragons. They get their name from the fact that you can gently squeeze the sides of the intricately shaped flower and see the jaws of a dragon head snap closed. The blooms come in gorgeous colors, including some with beautiful color variations on each flower. Plus, snapdragons are an outstanding cut flower. Gather a dozen or more in a small vase and you'll have one of the prettiest bouquets around.Snapdragons are especially useful because they're a cool-season annual, coming into their own in early spring when the warm-season annuals, such as marigolds and impatiens, are just being planted. They're also great for fall color.Plant snapdragon in early spring, a few weeks before your region's last frost date. Deadhead regularly for best bloom and fertilize regularly. Snapdragons often self-seed in the landscape if not deadheaded, so they come back year after year, though the colors from hybrid plants will often will be muddy looking. In mild regions, the entire plant may overwinter if covered with mulch.Shown above: 'Rocket Red' snapdragon
Gerbera daisy
Gerbera daisies are so perfect they hardly look real. They bloom in nearly every color (except true blues and purples) and produce fantastically large flowers on long, thick, sturdy stems. They last for a week or more in the vase, making them a favorite of flower arrangers.This tender perennial will last the winter in only the warmest parts of the country, Zones 9-11. In the rest of the country, it is grown as an annual. It does well in average soil; it likes soil kept evenly moist but not overly wet. Fertilize lightly.
Impatiens
What would we do without impatiens? It's the old reliable for shade gardens when you want eye-popping color all season long. The plants bloom in just about every color except true blue and are well suited to growing in containers or in the ground. If you have a bright spot indoors, you may be able to grow impatiens all year as an indoor plant.
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