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