Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mexican Feather Grass

Mexican Feather Grass, Nassella tenuissima, is a New Mexico native ornamental clump grass reaching 1'-2' tall and wide.  It produces a fountain-like clump of wispy green foliage that dances in the wind. Mexican Feather Grass never goes completely dormant in winter as indicated by occasional green leaf blades mixed with brown (photo). In dry areas this grass will grow as a clump but can become "lawn-like" or reseeds to naturalize where moisture is more abundant (photo). Mexican Feather Grass is a low maintenance plant. Normal care is late winter pruning, reducing the clump down to 4” – 6” to remove prior years growth. This produces a nice green fountain when growth resumes in Spring. Mexican Feather Grass is a great accent plant for xeric gardens, borders, groundcover, or for erosion control on sloped ground. Low to regular water. Zone 6.

Written by:
Stephen Sain
Staff Plant Physiologist


  1. To minimize undesired reseeding, I like to use a comb, to "comb out" the seed head clumps right as they ripen.

  2. Good Idea! You can also mow, shear, or weed-wack as the seed heads are forming before maturity. On the other hand if you want it to spread, then mow, shear, or weed-wack after the seed heads mature and dry. The grass blades that were cut will regorw.

  3. For those of us who have the energy and love of hiking, one of the most beautiful views of a natural ecosystem in the Southwest is at Laguna Meadows in the Chisos Mountains, where the Mexican Feather Grass forms a solid carpet under the Oaks, Bigtooth Sugar Maples and Pine. It gives you hope that someday we will learn how to landscape a sustainable ecological situation that mimics nature's best. Where it looks like the house was placed carefully into a natural setting without disturbing the indigenous. Where soils are healthy and rich in all the components of biology and chemistry that nature provides. The components that manmade urban landscapes almost always lack, the bio geo chemical process of plant nutrition and soil formation.