How to Plant Mexican Feather Grass at Home

Close-up of Mexican feather grasses, delicate stems & seed heads swaying gently, epitomizing untamed natural beauty.

Mexican feather grass is a versatile landscaping plant that adds texture to your garden. With soft, thin plumes, it complements any garden design.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll go through everything you need to know about Mexican feather grass, including how to plant and care for it in your garden.

What is a Mexican Feather Grass Plant?

Mexican feather grass plants,  known scientifically as Nassella tenuissima, are a popular option for landscaping because of their unique texture and delicate, wispy seedheads. 

This perennial plant returns every year, adding a touch of softness and visual appeal to your garden. It thrives in full sunlight but can handle some shade in colder seasons. Mexican feather plants grow fairly quickly, which is considered invasive in some US states, including California and the Southwest. For those living in these areas, look at other wild grass options, which we’ll discuss later in the article. 

One of the most notable qualities of feather grass is its ability to survive in droughts. Because of this, you can plant it in well-drained sandy or loamy soils. 

Common NameMexican Feather Grass
Botanical NameNassella tenuissima
FamilyPoaceae (Grass)
Plant TypePerennial Grass
Size1 – 2 ft Tall
Sun ExposureFull
Soil TypeSandy, Loamy
Soil pHAcidic to Neutral
Bloom TimeLate Spring to Early Summer
Hardiness Zones6 – 10 (USDA)
Native AreaSouthwest USA and North Mexico
Toxicity LevelsNon-Toxic 

Is Mexican Feather Grass Invasive?

Mexican Feather Grass is invasive in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas due to the ideal growing conditions and its fast growth and ability to spread. This grass can pose challenges for native plants and the ecosystem in those regions. When a plant becomes invasive, it can dominate the area, harming other plants and animals that rely on them.

The rapid spread of Mexican Feather Grass is particularly concerning in areas where there is no natural competition. Once established, it can kill off neighbouring plants by competing for sunlight and nutrients. 

Mexican Feather Grass is also highly flammable and increases the risk of wildfires in hotter US states. Fires can take hold rapidly because of its fine, dry foliage and how it grows and forms dense stands. So, while it may look appealing in your garden, exercise caution when planting Mexican Feather Grass.

Tranquil lakeside oasis nestled amidst lush greenery, birch trees and feather grass under a serene blue sky.

What Climate Does Mexican Feather Grass Need?

Mexican feather grass flourishes in a sunny and warm environment. It originates from regions with moderate to subtropical climates, commonly seen in Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Mexican feather grass thrives in warm temperatures, preferring areas with mild winters and warm summers. Areas with extreme cold or heat will not be able to sustain feather grass all year round. 

Abundant sunlight is also crucial for Mexican feather grass to grow. Planting feather grass in areas that receive regular sunlight throughout the day will maintain its feathery appearance. 

Watering Mexican feather grass is particularly important in its growing stage. Once the plant is established, it requires minimal water and can even withstand periods of drought. After planting feather grass, water infrequently and allow the soil to dry out to stop root damage. To maintain a healthy garden, consider using a weed tool to keep unwanted plants at bay.

Tall pampas grass swaying gracefully against a backdrop of clear blue sky with fluffy white clouds.

How to Plant Mexican Feather Grass at Home

Here’s a guide on how to plant Mexican Feather Grass at home:

  1. Find the Perfect Spot – Find a sunny area in your garden that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. Mexican feather grass thrives in sunny conditions.
  2. Prepare the Soil – Make sure the soil is well drained by adding sand or compost if it’s heavy or compacted. Feather grass prefers good drainage.
  3. Acquire the Plant – Purchase Mexican feather grass seeds or starter plants from a nursery. If using seeds, follow the germination instructions on the packet.
  4. Dig a Hole – If planting a starter plant, dig a hole that matches the depth of its root ball and twice its width.
  5. Planting Process – Carefully remove the Mexican feather grass from its container and place it in the hole. Fill with soil and gently pat around the base to secure it.
  6. Watering Routine – Water the newly planted grass well to help it adjust to its new environment. Water deeply, but avoid over-watering as Mexican feather grass dislikes soggy soil.
  7. Mulch – You may consider adding a layer of mulch around the plant’s base to help keep the soil moist and prevent weed growth. Be sure not to cover the grass crown.
  8. Care and Upkeep – Mexican feather grass requires very little maintenance. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings and prune any dead or damaged leaves as necessary.
Soft sunlight illuminating Mexican Feather Grass, enhancing garden's serene sway

What Other Wild Grasses Can I Plant in My Garden?

If you’re unable to plant Mexican feather grass in your garden because of restrictions in your area, there are plenty of other wild grass varieties you can choose from. Here are some less invasive options for you to consider:

  • Purple Fountain Grass boasts beautiful purple-tinged leaves and feathery plumes that bring a touch of sophistication to any garden.
  • Switchgrass is a native grass available in plenty of colors and sizes. Switchgrass is resilient and able to withstand droughts, making it an excellent option for hassle-free landscaping.
  • Little Bluestem is another native grass species. Its blue-green foliage transforms into a stunning bronze-red hue in the autumn. It’s easy to grow and adds color to your outdoor space.
  • Pampas grass stands tall with its striking white or pink fluffy plumes. It’s ideal for providing height and texture to your garden. However, be cautious as some varieties have the potential to spread rapidly and become invasive in certain areas.
  • Japanese Blood Grass earns its name from its eye-catching red leaves. Blood grass is suitable for bordering your garden beds.

Summing Up

Mexican feather grass adds a lovely touch and visual charm to gardens. However, its tendency to spread aggressively in specific areas raises concerns about its impact on the local environment.

Before deciding to plant Mexican feather grass, it’s essential to think about your climate and any environmental conditions. If Mexican feather grass is not suitable for your garden, there are plenty of other types of wild grasses that you can choose from to enhance the beauty of your outdoor space.

Billowing feather grass swaying under a dynamic sky with a vivid contrast of white fluffy plumes and deep blue clouds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our most frequently asked questions on Mexican feather grass.

1. Is It Easy To Take Care of Mexican Feather Grass in a Garden?

Mexican Feather Grass doesn’t require much maintenance. Just water your plant regularly and occasionally trim dead leaves.

2. Can You Plant Mexican Feather Grass in Any Type of Soil?

This type of wild grass prefers well-drained soil, like sandy or loamy soil, but it will tolerate different soil types.

3. How Frequently Should I Water Mexican Feather Grass?

Water Mexican Feather Grass deeply but not too often, allowing the soil to dry out between watering. Once grown, it can handle dry conditions but still needs regular watering during hot and dry weather.

4. What Kind of Climate Is Best for Growing Mexican Feather Grass?

Mexican Feather Grass does well in warm and sunny climates with mild winters. It likes moderate temperatures that aren’t too extreme.

5. Is It Okay to Plant Mexican Feather Grass if I Live in the Southwest?

In some parts of the southwest, Mexican Feather Grass is considered problematic. So, it’s essential to check local rules before planting it. If it’s not suitable for your area, there are other grass options you can consider.

6. How Can I Stop Mexican Feather Grass From Spreading?

To prevent Mexican Feather Grass from spreading, regularly remove seed heads and pull up any unwanted plants.

7. Can I Cultivate Mexican Feather Grass Using Seeds?

You can grow Mexican Feather Grass from seeds. Just follow the germination guidelines provided on the seed packet for the best results possible.

8. Does Mexican Feather Grass Attract Wildlife?

Mexican Feather Grass might attract birds and insects to your garden, offering them a food source and a place to live.

9. Is Mexican Feather Grass Safe for Pets?

While generally safe for pets, it’s wise to supervise pets around plants like Mexican Feather Grass and prevent them from eating it. Some pets, like dogs and cats, may have sensitivities or allergies.

10. What Other Plants Can I Use Instead of Mexican Feather Grass for Landscaping?

If Mexican Feather Grass doesn’t suit your garden, consider options like Purple Fountain Grass, Switchgrass, Little Bluestem, Pampas Grass, or Japanese Blood Grass. Each plant brings its own visual charm to your garden’s design.

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