How to Plant and Grow Fiber-Optic Grass

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Fiber Optic Grass, Isolepis

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.

Fiber-Optic Grass Overview

Genus Name Isolepis cernua
Common Name Fiber-Optic Grass
Plant Type Annual, Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 6 to 12 inches
Flower Color White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant

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-shaped 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.

Fiber Optic Grass Care Tips

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.

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.

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