Mexican feather grass, also called pony tails, is a superb grass known for its shimmering golden panicles.
Mexican feather grass facts
Name – Stipa tenuifolia
Family – Poaceae
Type – perennial, grass
Height – 1 ½ feet (50 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary, well drained
Blooming: May to October
This easy-to-care-for feather grass fits right into any grass bed and also grows well in a pot thanks to its ornamental appeal.
Planting Mexican feather grass, Pony tails
Indifferently in spring or fall in well drained soil.
Select a very sunny location and try to set it towards the front of a bed to make the most of its beautiful panicles.
- Mexican feather grass is hardy and can cope with temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C).
- Pony tails prefers poor soil to rich soil.
- Propagate through crown division in fall.
Pruning pony tails
No pruning is really required but it is nonetheless possible to cut the stems back at the end of winter.
Indeed, cutting back part of the dried leaves will trigger sending up of new, bright green shoots.
- Use sharp long shears for that.
- Cut away the dried portions of the Mexican feather grass without snipping the young green stems that are budding.
Pruning in this manner will help the grass keep a nice, roundish shape and the color will be more consistent.
Growing Mexican feather grass in a pot
The roots of Mexican feather grass (or pony tails) run along the surface instead of going deep, so best select a wide, shallow pot at least 1 ½ feet (45 cm) across.
- This particular grass will grow shorter if you only give it a pot a few inches deep, but should reach normal height as long as you give it ½ foot of soil (15 cm).
- Ensure very good drainage so that water doesn’t stay put.
Water often, as soon as the soil is dry. For best results in pots, remember to fertilize with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Nettle weed tea is one of the best possible options, but there are others suitable ones like comfrey weed tea, too.
Splitting Mexican feather grass to cover more surface
There are two ways to cover ground with your Pony tails grass:
- one is to stud larger clumps here and there for a hilly, seemingly random appearance.
- the other is to aim for something more homogeneous and even.
In the first case you’ll want to split the clump and leave it as large as possible, whereas in the second you’ll want to break the clump down into smaller strands and spread them evenly. Perform this either early fall or spring, as long as there isn’t any frost foreseen within the following month.
How to split a clump of Mexican feather grass
- Water the ground around the clump thoroughly.
- With a sharp spade, slice the clump through the middle, to the hilt.
- Lever the spade under half the clump, from the center out, to lift it up with as many roots as possible.
- Roots run along the surface rather than going deep, so you’ll have to inch along as you lever the roots up.
- Backfill the remaining half with soil, ridging it somewhat to bolster it up.
- Plant your new clump to its new place, breaking up the soil without necessarily digging a hole, and plunking the new clump atop it.
- Cover the roots over with a lot of soil to cover them entirely.
This will recreate a dune-like feeling and seem quite impressive.
How to spread Mexican grass for even coverage
- Water the ground thoroughly around the clump.
- Dig the entire clump out carefully with a spade.
- With your hands and a cultivator, weave through the clump and tear it apart, ensuring a bunch of stems remains connected to a bunch of roots.
- One mature clump can be divided into 5 to 15 smaller bunches.
- In the target planting area, dig holes about half a foot (12 cm) deep, spacing them evenly by up to a foot (25 cm).
- Place each bunch in a hole and backfill with soil and river sand to ensure drainage.
- Water abundantly the first time, and then weekly in moderate amounts until it has properly settled in.
You’ll soon see a field of gold growing in your garden!
Learn more about Mexican feather grass
This very beautiful perennial is part of the grasses family and it produces beautiful golden panicles from summer to fall.
You can set your feather grass up in perennial beds or shrub beds, and also as a standalone to highlight its superb foliage.
The care it needs is very easy and it is guaranteed to produce a great decorative impact from spring to winter!
Smart tip about Mexican feather grass
Pony tails feather grass adapts particularly well to poor soil types, but loathes them when too moist.
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Mexican feather grass swaths by Mia Strong under © CC BY-NC 2.0
Mexican feather grass in city by Sharon K. under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Thick, lush Mexican feather grass by Celeste Ramsay under © CC BY-NC-ND 2.0