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Tufted hairgrass, a grassy wonder that sways its fronds in the wind

Deschampsia cespitosa tufted hairgrass

Tufted hairgrass does just that – it brings on images of long-haired fairies waving their tufts in the wind! Deschampsia cespitosa grows easily, too.

Deschampsia cespitosa key facts

Botanical nameDeschampsia cespitosa
Common name – tufted hairgrass

Typelandscaping grasses
Bearing – arching upright mound
Height – 20 to 40 inches (50 to 100 cm)

Planting density – 3 to 4 plants per sq. yard (m²)
Exposure – sunny or partly sunny
Soil – any type, cool

Flowering – June to August

Deschampsia cespitosa is an outstanding grass which bears tufty flowers and then seed pods that seem to float in thin air. When planted together with other grasses, or even simply as a standalone, it will definitely upgrade your garden as seasons come and go.

Planting Deschampsia cespitosa

How to plant tufted hairgrassTufted hairgrass does very well in all types of soil, particularly in moist and cool terrain. Make sure you don’t settle it in a spot that often shows signs of dryness or drought. Before planting, amend the soil with either compost or fresh soil mix, and place 3 to 4 clumps of your Deschampsia cespitosa per square yard or meter. This plant can easily be grown in pot or garden box. If you do this, though, make sure you’re diligent about watering.

Caring for Deschampsia cespitosa

The principal advantage of grasses is that they only require minimal care.

Deschampsia cespitosa of course follows this rule, and the only maintenance you’ll ever have to perform is to cut the clump back at the end of February or beginning of March to remove dead, dried-out fronds. For container growing, an additional step is to add fertilizer at the start of Spring, and to schedule a proper repotting every 3 to 4 years, depending on the size of the pot. As a rule of thumb, if you check the drainage holes underneath and notice roots growing out, it’s time to repot. A solution to help keep the soil moist is to spread a layer of mulch atop the soil.

Tufted hairgrass diseases

A naturally very resistant plant, Deschampsia cespitosa won’t suffer from any disease.Deschampsia cespitosa in pots

However, it’s a “feeding host” for insects that carry diseases dangerous to other plants. For instance, Xylella fastidiosa is a bacteria carried by the lined spittlebug, which feeds on hairgrass among others – it then hops over to more vulnerable species like olive trees.

Multiplying Deschampsia cespitosa

As for many species of grasses, Deschampsia will cope very well with clump division:

  • pull out the clump;
  • slice the clump in half with a sharpened spade;
  • plant each portion in different spots.

Propagating and multiplying tufted deschampsia cespitosa hairgrassOther ways to propagate this hairgrass:

  • either recover seeds after the blooming is over to sow them elsewhere;
  • or transplant any self-sown sprouts you might come upon.

All the steps described above are best performed in Fall; and, if not Fall, then in Spring – but propagating this grass in Spring means committing to watering well over the following Summer.

Use of tufted hairgrass in landscaping

Tufted hairgrass will suit large panoramas very wellTufted hairgrass is a very versatile plant:

In flower beds:

As a standalone in the midst of a growing bed, you’ll benefit from the best of what the plant can offer; you can also plant it in clusters, and it will then form fabulous vapor-like clouds when it blooms. The impact will be even greater if the backdrop of the flower bed is darker.

Potted tufted hairgrass:

A lover of shade and moisture, a garden box will grow lush if you plant a few specimens of Deschampsia cespitosa on your terrace.

Alternate with blue fescue and Imperata cylindrica – the ‘Red Baron‘ variety is particularly nice – to create even-sized clumps of color.

Smart tip

Rather than throw the dried stems away, spread them around and use them as a natural – and cheap! – mulch.

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