Plant giant needle grass next to the lawn so that a viewer may appreciate its dangling seeds on close inspection. (Richie Steffen)

Plant giant needle grass next to the lawn so that a viewer may appreciate its dangling seeds on close inspection. (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Stipa gigantea, giant feather or needle grass

Plant the grass next to the lawn so that a viewer may appreciate its dangling seeds on close inspection.

What: Stipa gigantea is a statuesque grass. Tufts of 18-inch foliage explode with emerging seed heads in early summer. The seed heads grow 6 to 8 feet and hold large teardrop-like seeds that dry to a honey-gold color. The seed heads last until late summer or early autumn, and are spectacular when backlit. A native of Spain, giant needle grass is drought resistant and should be grown in full sun. Do not over fertilize it, as lushly growing plants have week stems that flop. For the most drama, grow giant needle grass next to lower growing plants so its full stature can be appreciated. It also looks great growing out of gravel as a specimen plant. Plant the grass close enough to the walk or lawn so that the viewer can appreciate the dangling seed on close inspection. Even though the foliage is evergreen, this durable plant should be cut back in late winter for a tidy appearance.

Where: Giant needle grass needs a location with full sun and well-drained or sandy soil.

Size: Stipa gigantea grows to be 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide when mature.

Care: It is drought tolerant once established. This grass can be tidied by raking through the clump to remove the loose dead grass. It can also be cut back in late winter or early spring for a cleaner look. However, if the plant is not vigorous, cutting it back can kill a weak or young plant.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

Talk to us

More in Life

She reorganized the pantry to reduce food waste at home

With the help of a label maker, this mom is reorganizing foods by expiration date instead of type.

Rick Steves on foraging Europe’s markets for the perfect picnic

Your tummy will be full of delicious food and your mind will be stuffed with tasty memories.

Ask Dr. Paul: Fight pandemic blues with grace, gratitude and grit

Here’s how to build an attitudinal toolkit that will help you find your way through trying times.

Virus Diary: When you prefer it anyway, staying in isn’t bad

Quarantine puts introverts right where they belong — safe at home.

Actors Morgan Peeler, Carissa Meisner Smit and Amy Gentry were randomly assigned to work with director Keith Gehrig at Phoenix Theatre’s 24 Hour Theatre Festival in 2017. (Phoenix Theatre)
Eight easy rules for putting on your own 24-hour play at home

Thespians Amy Gentry and Morgan Peeler turn their jobs into a game you can play with your kids.

Gallery: Locked down, socially distant in Snohomish County

Daily Herald photographers share their images of life during the weeks-long stay-home order.

Local jewelry maker offers artful pieces of Lockdown Love

Everett’s Melanie Brauner is a metalsmith and papermaker whose latest line is inspired by the coronavirus emergency.

When the quarantine is eased, a watershed wonderland awaits

The Northwest Stream Center gets ready to reopen when the county is cleared for Phase 2 of the state COVID-19 plan.

COVID-19 and contact tracing

Public Health Essentials! A blog by the Snohomish Health District.

Most Read