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Genus Stipa (Feather grass, Needle grass, Spear grass)

Stipa Stipa gigantea Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
STY-pah Common Name: Feather grass, Needle grass, Spear grass Synonyms: Achnatherum
Stipa are tufted, clump-forming grass species that are native to temperate and warm temperate regions of the world. Their leaves are linear, pleated, and rolled, and their flowers are feathery, bristly, or flattened. They are suitable as accents or specimens in grass or rock gardens, and for naturalizing, wild gardens, and erosion control. Their inflorescences may be used for dried flower arrangements. S. tenuissima is native to southern North America.
Noteworthy characteristics: These grasses are grown for the wide variety of textures produced by their foliage and flowers. All are responsive to even the slightest breeze.
Care: Grow in moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun. Cut back deciduous species in early winter and remove old foliage of evergreen species in early spring.
Propagation: Sow seed in a cold frame in spring; divide from mid-spring to early summer.
Problems: Damping off, rust, smut, brown patch, brown stripe, eye spot.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Stipa

no image available Stipa arundinacea
(New Zealand wind grass, Pheasant's tail grass)
Be the first to rate this plant
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This evergreen species makes a handsome specimen with narrow, arching foliage that is streaked orange in summer and becomes orange-brown in winter. Its fine, pendent flower inflorescences open purplish-green in midsummer and have a misty quality.

Stipa gigantea Stipa gigantea
(Giant feather grass, Golden oats)
(1 user review)

This semi-evergreen species makes a stately, stand-alone specimen with narrow, arching foliage and shimmering gold panicles that reach 8 feet tall. The flowers open in June as silvery-purple and mature to shades of wheat.

Stipa tenuissima Stipa tenuissima
(Mexican feather grass)
(5 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

No other grass exhibits quite the refinement of texture as this species. Its bright green foliage resembles delicate filaments that arise in elegant, vase-like clumps and spill outward like a soft fountain. All summer it bears a profusion of feathery panicles, which mature from foamy-green to blonde. It is native to the Americas.