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Mexican Feather Grass

Nassella or Stipa tenuissima

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 tolerates drought with ease. It reseeds to naturalize in meadows or on slopes for erosion control. Pair it with flowering perennials or succulents.

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

1 to 3 feet

Width:

To 3 feet wide

Flower Color:

Zones:

6-10

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. Mexican feather 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. 

Find more tips on landscaping in dry climates like Texas here.

Low-Water Wonder

Who says dry landscapes look like multiple shades of taupe? Pair Mexican feather grass with other perennials that thrive in dry conditions for a low-maintenance color- and texture-rich landscape that is an oasis for wildlife. Great plants for dry landscapes include sedum, which stores water in its succulent leaves while its flowers provide color for weeks in late summer and fall. Black-eyed Susan, a pollinator favorite, boasts bright yellow flowers. Coreopsis begins blooming in early summer and continues until the first frost.

You can also call on Mexican feather grass when planting containers for hot, dry locations. This tough grass adds graceful movement and long-lasting texture to potted gardens from planting in early spring until frost. Pair it with low-water annuals, such as lantana, moss rose, and strawflower.

Discover tough perennials that thrive even in dry shade.

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.

Plant Mexican Feather Grass With:

Sedum
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.
Aster
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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