Mexican feather grass for hot days
Before we get started with gardening with Mexican feather grass, some context will help us emphasize the value of landscaping with grasses.
Lubbock is located in the center of Llano Estacado. The history of this interesting land formation is found in the Texas Guide (tshaonline.org), source of the following information.
The Llano Estacado is a flat plateau that includes 32,000 square miles from the Canadian River in the north to the Permian Basin in the south, the Caprock Escarpment in the east and New Mexico’s Mescalero Escarpment in the west. In total, the plateau is larger than all of New England.
The tableland was named Llano Estacado in 1541 by explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. In a letter to the King of Spain, he wrote, “I had come to some plains so vast that I could not find their limits anywhere I went, though I had traveled over them for more than 300 leagues… and there were no more earthly marks than if we had reached there”. “It was swallowed up by the sea… There was no stone, no piece of high ground, no tree, no bush, nothing to cross.” (La Liga is about 780 miles.)
Llano Estacado translates as fortified plains of bone piles or stakes that early travelers used to mark roads. They are alternately translated as fortified plains or fortified plains for the geological formations that form the cliff edges of the steep escarpments that border the plateau when viewed from below.
But let us return to Coronado’s letter in which he described the devastation “…neither tree nor shrub,…”
The only truly native plant in Llano Estacado is grass. Mexican feathergrass is a drought-tolerant grass native to western Texas, New Mexico, and northern Mexico. It adds high ornamental value to the landscape through its clumping, willowy growth habit. It is a grass with a soft texture that is sent into motion with slight breezes. The delicate flower heads and long, thin, delicate leaves create a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere as they shimmer and sway in the wind.
Mexican feather grass forms dense clumps of long, green, hair-like leaves that give an overall fluffy (feathery) appearance. Plants reach one to three feet in height with the same spread. The plants are perennials, and thrive when grown in full sun in hot, dry locations in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 10.
For winter care, allow the leaves to persist throughout the winter months but carefully trim and uproot dead leaves before resuming growth in early spring.
Mexican feather grass is self-seeding and propagates by divisions. Divide plants by digging up entire clumps when new shoots appear in spring. Cut the clumps into several sections and replant them. Keep it moist until the root system is established. Mexican feather grass clusters are most effective in the landscape.
Ellen Pivley has taught horticulture at the college level for 28 years, 25 of them at Texas Tech University, during which time she has developed two onion varieties. She is now the sole owner of From the Garden, a market garden farm. You can email her at Gardens@suddenlink.net