Mexican Feather Grass
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Credit: Edward Gohlich
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Mexican Feather Grass

Mexican feather grass (Nassella or Stipa tenuissima) brims with grace. The slightest wind sends the delicate flower heads and thin leaves of this perennial grass into motion. Native to North American drylands, Mexican feather grass thrives in quick-draining, lean soil and is quite drought-tolerant. It reseeds to naturalize in meadows or on slopes for erosion control (which can border on invasiveness in some regions).

genus name
  • Nassella or Stipa tenuissima
light
  • Part Sun
  • Sun
plant type
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • To 3 feet wide
flower color
season features
problem solvers
special features
zones
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
propagation

Suits Dry Landscapes

Mexican feather grass is native to west Texas, New Mexico, and portions of Mexico. Its graceful mounding habit and fine-texture, semi-evergreen foliage is a welcome addition to dry landscapes. You can also call on Mexican feather grass when planting containers for hot, dry locations. This tough plant adds graceful movement and long-lasting texture to potted gardens from early spring until frost.

This ornamental grass reseeds with gusto in some areas and has been identified as invasive in some states, including California, where it is not recommended for planting. Check with your state extension service before planting Mexican feather grass.

Mexican Feather Grass Care Must-Knows

This ornamental grass grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. Water plants weekly during the first growing season after planting. Moving forward, you'll need to water this perennial only during extreme dry periods. Cut back or rake out dead foliage in early spring before the plant begins growing.

Divide Mexican feather grass plants in early spring, right after they begin to send up new green shoots. Dig up the entire clump, then use a sharp spade to cut the clump into three or four sections. Replant each section, watering it well after planting.

Mexican Feather Grass Companion Plants

Credit: Jo-Ann Richards

Sedums are nearly the perfect plants. They look good from the moment they emerge from the soil in spring and continue to look fresh and fabulous all growing season long. Many are attractive even in winter when their foliage dies and is left standing. They're also drought-tolerant and need very little if any care. They're favorites of butterflies and useful bees. The tall types are outstanding for cutting and drying. Does it get better than that? Only in the fact that there are many different types of this wonderful plant, from tall types that will top 2 feet to low-growing groundcovers that form mats. All thrive in full sun with good drainage. Ground cover types do a good job of suppressing weeds, but seldom tolerate foot traffic. Some of the smaller ones are best grown in pots or treated as houseplants.

Credit: Jay Wilde

Asters get their name from the Latin word for "star," and their flowers are indeed the superstars of the fall garden. Some types of this native plant can reach up to 6 feet with flowers in white and pinks but also, perhaps most strikingly, in rich purples and showy lavenders. Not all asters are fall bloomers. Extend the season by growing some of the summer bloomers, as well. Some are naturally compact; tall types that grow more than 2 feet tall benefit from staking or an early-season pinching or cutting back by about one-third in July or so to keep the plant more compact.

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