Nassella tenuissima, Mexican feather grass, (formerly known as Stipa, a name I prefer) grows happily in my garden both in the ground and in containers. The overall effect reminds me of fine green and straw colored hair. Its size, to about 2' tall in bloom, makes this clumper easy to use in small gardens.
Two ornamental grasses that I have not grown but hear glowing reports about are Schizachyrium scoparium 'The Blues,' a selection of the native little bluestem and Sporobolus heterolepis, prairie dropseed, a native to North American prairies that forms a 15" tall mound. Tiffany Jones of McMahan's considers Schizachyrium "the best grass they sell" for its blue foliage, purple tones in the fall and its upright habit with no flopping.
Prairie dropseed starts out glossy green in the summer but come fall it turns a deep orange before fading to light copper in winter. The delicate flowers are held high on stalk to about 30”’s. A clumper, this low-maintenance grass tolerates a range of soil types and is known to be long-lived and low maintenance.
No matter what the season, ornamental grasses add their own special beauty to the garden, whether you grow them on their own, or in combination with other grasses, perennials, conifers, trees and shrubs.
Mexican feather grass
Botanical name: Nassella tenuissima
About the plant: Delicate and airy, Mexican feather grass grows 2 ½' tall and 2' wide. Even the slightest breeze causes this grass to move.
Use in the garden: Plant it in masses with perennials like sedums and asters or as an accent with conifers or roses. Use it for a groundcover or to control erosion on steep banks.
Planting and care: Plant this grass in full sun in a well-drained soil. Use a rake to remove dead parts of the plant in late winter or early spring. Otherwise leave it alone.
Source: McMahan's Nursery, 5727 Cleveland Hwy., Clermont, GA 30527, 770-983-3666, www.mcmahansnursery.com
Erica Glasener is a horticulturist and host of "A Gardener's Diary" which airs at 6:30 a.m. Fridays on HGTV. For questions visit Erica Glasener's Web site and follow her on Twitter.