Plants to Love: Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima/ Stipa tenuissima)

stipanassellatenuissimaMexicanFeatherGrass.jpgstipa nassella tenuissima Mexican Feather Grass This waving blonde grass is a great way of bringing a sense of movement to your garden. It looks great massed, and brings a beachy feel to the garden with its bleached straw-colored seedheads. Nassella tenuissima does need to be cut to the ground once a year, but I’ve had great luck doing it at the end of the summer – it comes back just in time to perk up the winter garden. Give it full sun and 3’ of room. Mexican Feather Grass usually gets pruned once yearly in September when they go kind of beige and dreadlock-y, and they come back gorgeously and make a fresh green winter accent for me. Cut the entire thing to 3” tall using your hedging shears. (Check out this article from The Germinatrix with her take on pruning this Stipa!) This grass can be invasive in some parts of the country because it does re-seed. Here in the coastal Pacific Northwest, it will often re-seed in a garden, but rarely become a pest, and I haven’t seen it in any wild areas. But in Southern CA, it is becoming a pest and so I’d check with your local agricultural extension before planting this lovely little grass to make sure it will actually be lovely for you. [print_link]

Plants to Love: Purple Catmint (Nepeta faassenii)

Nepetafaassenii.jpg

Nepetafaassenii

Simple, lush, gorgeous. This sun-lover attracts bees and beneficial insects, resists deer, takes salty seacoast wind, and looks great with any number of plants. All it asks in return is good drainage and full sun. I love it with just about any ornamental grass, pink or yellow roses (it attracts the beneficial bugs that eat aphids, which makes them a great companion plant to roses!), Heathers, Hardy Cranesbills, and anything with purple foliage. I trim individual stems back partway early in the growing season if size needs to be reduced, or remove stems selectively towards the end of the season once trimming stems partway no longer looks graceful. Nepetas get cut back completely in winter once they’ve died down. You can divide them every few years to control size, but it doesn’t seem necessary for the plants’ health – I’ve never seen them die out in the center as many undivided perennials do. [print_link]