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PlantFiles: Silky Thread Grass, Mexican Feather Grass, Mexican Needle Grass, Pony Tails
Stipa tenuissima

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Stipa (STEE-pa) (Info)
Species: tenuissima (ten-yoo-ISS-ee-muh) (Info)

Synonym:Nassella tenuissima

14 vendors have this plant for sale.

34 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 33 photos.
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14 positives
2 neutrals
8 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative elden On Aug 28, 2014, elden from Redondo Beach, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

I cant stand this stuff... my neighbor has this planted everywhere and it killed all the stuff in my garden beds and now my turf is mixed with Mexican feather grass. Here's a video I made showing how invasive this can be, it's so frustrating.

Neutral AunTee On May 20, 2014, AunTee from East Oakdale, CA wrote:

PROS: beautiful to watch wave in the wind. Easy to plant, grow and reseed (does on its own) Drought tolerant and great for rocky xeriscapes. SUGGESTION: perfect for large areas or acreages needing soil retention, hillsides, empty lots with poor soil and little irrigation. It'll spread on its own and you'll have to do nothing.
CONS: DO NOT PLANT AROUND POOLS OR PONDS with pumps. The thread will blow into water and clog up filters. It'll stick to your clothing, gloves, hair. DO NOT plant if you have dogs or cats that like to sniff around everything. Our little Terrier mix got one or two of the threads up her nose and that began a 24-hour sneeze fest for her. It'd stop for awhile then start up again. It exhausted her and she didn't know what was going on. The next day we took her to our vet (soonest we could) along with samples of threads. Doc put a numbing gel down nostrils and took a look with a scope. She couldn't find anything, but the gel and scope must have unlodged the barb and she was able to pass it (we assume). Her ordeal was over, with a $90 vet bill. NEXT TIME, I'll know to use saline rinse and/or a NasaGel spray and start flushing her nose immediately. BUGS like sow bugs and snails love to live in undergrowth if you water too much. SUGGESTION: remove clumps of hair (flowers) when you can and deadhead in August. You can deadhead anytime if you don't want it to reseed, but it won't look the same unless you can cut along its natural line. PULL UP babies as you see and toss OR do what I do: I pot them up and sell to folks with hillside properties that want beauty that takes no effort except initial planting and watering once a week during first month or so. IN AUSTRALIA they've banned this plant and it's labeled as a noxious weed. I had to laugh at the thought of it taking over the entire Outback. It's not native there so they're very strict. It got into country being mislabeled. They say it produces 700,000 to 1 million seeds A MONTH in their climate. In some areas where it's taken over, they torch it. How'd that be on the barbie?!!

Positive Lazygardener2 On May 19, 2014, Lazygardener2 from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

I planted three small plants along a border, and I now have at least one dozen volunteers. What is interesting is that this grass seems to preferentially pop up along the edges of our garden paths. Although I had wanted thyme to grow around my rock path, it just refused to tolerate the heat, and died out. So, although I had a different vision, stipa has filled in and requires much less water than most plants, which is great since we are in a drought. My Yellow Lab does not mind it at all, and we have not had any health problems with her due to this plant. My advice: this will work well IF you want a fairly natural, windswept look, but it will pop up everywhere. That said, it is very easy to pull out from places it is not wanted, and it fulfills my basic gardening philosophy: plants have to want to be in my garden; I am not going to coddle or cajole plants into thriving in my yard! This one loves it here, so, welcome!

Negative BeatenObamacare On Jan 10, 2014, BeatenObamacare from Albuquerque, NM wrote:

Your neighbors will hate you for planting Mexican Feather Grass, or Thread Grass. It will be growing all over the place-and is not at all easy to pull up in the dry alkaline soils we have.
It may wave in the wind beautifully, but do you really want it everywhere in the landscape?

Positive Dogopr On Jan 26, 2013, Dogopr from Ponce, PR wrote:

I'm in zone 13a (as maybe I'm a daredevil but I sow a few of those a few months ago -maybe mid December- and they are germinating!!!! Hope to succeed!

Neutral hampson On May 21, 2012, hampson from Kingman, AZ (Zone 8b) wrote:

I planted more than one in a perennial bed that gets watered regularly. It's lovely, but it sure does reseed! I pull and hoe out the seedlings from my beds, but my husband lets many seedlings go in his naturalized dry, desert areas. It's pretty easy to pull up and worth the effort, but I remove as much seed fluff as I can now and often shear the seed heads off. Absolutely beautiful to watch in the wind.

Negative romandoguinn On Jun 23, 2011, romandoguinn from Albany, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant makes me furious.

This is the nicest thing I can say.

The landlord of the apartments next door had landscapers plant half a dozen of these along our shared pathway. The metric ton of seed fluff that accumulates along my edging looks like handfulls of mangey dog hair. I end up sweeping it up multiple times daily. If they were my plants I'd remove them asap. And am thinking about it regardless, between you and me.

These have been planted less than 6 months. I'm literally afraid of the volunteers I'll encounter in the future.

Positive dvangogh On Jan 22, 2011, dvangogh from Los Angeles, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

This is a beautiful grass, though invasive as others have mentioned. The movement of the plant as a light breeze catches it is just beautiful to watch. Very calming and can add a dynamic touch to your garden.

Positive justdigin On Jul 16, 2010, justdigin from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Although it reseeds freely as others have mentioned, I find the seedlings easy to pull out. Even the larger ones can be removed or transplanted without much effort. If you are trying to maintain a very neat landscape, this plant is probably going to drive you crazy. If you like a more naturalized look as I do, you may really like it. It fills in the areas around my other plants, but doesn't choke them out. It reminds me of the California coast, which is the look I am going for in our front yard. As others have said, don't plant where your dog might get into it.

Positive 1e9l3h7 On Jun 28, 2010, 1e9l3h7 from Rio Rancho, NM wrote:

plant grows well here ,'west mesa in albuquerque. no problem with reseeding have divided to get four new plants. Looks good in winter.

Positive mwdallas On Jun 3, 2010, mwdallas from Carrollton, TX wrote:

I live in the Dallas, TX area & planted one in 2007. I now have several that I've re-potted from baby plants. My main plant did die after an awful frost last year, but left its babies and I was thrilled. YES, they do re-seed very easily but are so easy to pull out when very little if not wanted. I don't consider them invasive for this reason. I love watching the gentle peaceful swaying in the wind of this plant. I've given several away. I have only 3 in the ground and several in pots right now.

Negative zsir On Mar 11, 2010, zsir from Chula Vista, CA wrote:

I put one of these in a small backyard garden because I liked it visually and the way it moves in the wind. I thought it a harmless carefree addition. You'd think it ideal for Xeriscape or rock gardens. However it reseeds like crazy, and this from just one plant. Put 4 -5 or more in and you will have alot of extra work on your hands come early spring. I'll be sure to research before I try any other ornamental grasses. Proceed with caution with this choice.

Negative NicoleJ On Jun 15, 2009, NicoleJ from San Clemente, CA wrote:

My dog chased her tennis ball into an area of our yard where this plant is proliferating. She had several of the hairs stuck in her eyes and they caused her eye to swell shut. It has also somehow affected her jaw and given her a form of "lock jaw" and the veterinarian thinks she may have contracted tetanus from it. I am pulling it out and would not recommend it in a yard with active dogs.

Positive anelson77 On May 20, 2009, anelson77 from Seattle, WA wrote:

beautiful sensuous grass which adapts to a variety of conditions, sun, part shade, dry poor soil. Reseeds and spreads but not difficult to control.

Negative paires On May 6, 2009, paires from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

My landscape designer suggested this grass, and I think it is really lovely to watch blowing in the wind. However, it was planted next to my swimming pool, and the seed threads pass through my filter baskets and clog my impeller. I have to clear it out daily, even though I go out every morning and strip as much seed off of the plants as I can. I'll probably have to dig up the plants, and hope they don't sprout on the other side of the back yard wall, in the desert.

Negative lonediver On Jun 21, 2008, lonediver from Maricopa, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I will agree with most of the aforementioned statements , durable , beautiful and so on . But I also see that it is labeled as INVASIVE . I capitalize that with good reason . Here in the southwest desert and this is not a native plant . I planted 6 of them and now have had 100's of them all over my property (4 acres ) in an area that recieves less than 10 inches of rainfall a year and this stuff is sprouting up with no irragation . More so in areas that does . Once released it will scatter more than likely and add more fuel to already disastrous wildfires .

Positive TrishaG On May 7, 2008, TrishaG from Englewood, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

This grass looks like a clump of hair, dancing in the breeze. Soft green in spring, then turns a soft beige in the hot summer, and I leave it uncut in winter to provide interest. It does re-seed fairly heavily, but unwanted volunteers are easily pulled. I grow it pretty dry in my xeriscape area, in clay loam low in organic material. Survived a dry cold winter quite well. The description says 24-36" height -- I've never seen it get taller than 6-8", even at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Maybe because we grow it dry in the Rockies?

Negative SWNMgardener On May 7, 2008, SWNMgardener from Las Cruces, NM wrote:

I really loved the look of this grass in our landscape. It grows quite well in the desert southwest with some irrigation. But beware if you have puppies that like to grab at anything that moves. One of our puppies grabbed at some seeds/feathers that had fallen to the ground and nearly choked while trying to swallow them. We were unable to find any in it's mouth to remove, so I don't believe it had very much.
Also, this plant is a favorite of jackrabbits, so it's best grown behind a fenced area or chicken wire.

Positive DonnaMack On Apr 12, 2008, DonnaMack from Elgin, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I grow this grass in a pot, and bring it in for the winter. I also start it in the ground, dig it up, and bring it into the house to overwinter. That way, I get the lovely bloom although my season is too short for it to bloom outdoors. Last year's pot plant is blooming no - in early April, in my sunroom.

Positive RHSJONES On Mar 3, 2007, RHSJONES from Grand Junction, CO wrote:

this was one of the first plants I put in my new garden because it is so beautiful in the wind and I am in a windy area. It did very well even through our cold winter but I fear I have baby's all around it! will try and transplant them to my other garden. did well in composted heavy clay and was watered by drip only once a week even in hot weather.

Positive htop On Jun 7, 2006, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Other common names for this grass that is native to California, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico, and Argentina: ponytail grass, horsetail grass, horse tail grass, hair grass, angel hair grass, angelhair grass, finestem needlegrass

I have grown Mexican feather grass in a large container and did not have a reseeding problem; however, this may be atypical. It appears it will self-sow more prolifically in moist areas and is not as bothersome in dry locations. It mysteriously died sabout 5 years ago. This spring, a new plant emerged in the container in which the old plant had been growing. I am extremely happy that I have been blessed with this gift because I had missed the plant very much after it died.

Positive dh1234 On Aug 6, 2004, dh1234 from Atwater, CA wrote:

My comment is postive based on growability in the Central Valley of California. The only thing I don't care for, my wife loves it, is it sows itself all over the place. Otherwise a very durable plant.

Positive htop On Oct 2, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
One is growing in a huge container and from the top it looks almost like a huge green wig. I bought it at Walmart as a small plant and it has grown quite rapidly. Its blades blow in the wind so gracefully that it provides a soothing effect. It has withstood 22 degree nights in the winter and 108 degrees for 2 days this summer.

Positive lupinelover On Jul 1, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

The hardiness of this grass seems to depend on the age. Clumps that have not flowered are much hardier, making this a biennial for me. Usually the clumps that have flowered do not survive the winter.

The flower stalks and seeds are very sticky so that seeding around is very common.

Seeds sprout in mid to late spring outdoors.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Gaylesville, Alabama
Chino Valley, Arizona
Kingman, Arizona
Maricopa, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Alameda, California
Atwater, California
Brentwood, California
Cerritos, California
Chatsworth, California
Chula Vista, California
Cloverdale, California
Concord, California
Eureka, California
Fremont, California
Fullerton, California
Garberville, California
Knights Landing, California
Los Angeles, California
Merced, California
Oak Park, California
Oakdale, California
Redlands, California
Riverside, California
Sacramento, California
Salinas, California
San Clemente, California
San Diego, California
South Pasadena, California
Sunland, California
Denver, Colorado
Englewood, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
Cordele, Georgia
Grayslake, Illinois
Ewing, Kentucky
New Orleans, Louisiana
Pikesville, Maryland
Rushford, Minnesota
Las Vegas, Nevada
Pahrump, Nevada
Manchester, New Hampshire
Clovis, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Los Lunas, New Mexico
Roswell, New Mexico
Riverhead, New York
Statesville, North Carolina
Wake Forest, North Carolina
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Enid, Oklahoma
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Coos Bay, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Ponce, Puerto Rico
Columbia, South Carolina
Greenville, South Carolina
Okatie, South Carolina
Knoxville, Tennessee (2 reports)
Memphis, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas (4 reports)
Burleson, Texas
Carrollton, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Humble, Texas
Irving, Texas
Kennard, Texas
Magnolia, Texas
Midland, Texas
Midway, Texas
Plano, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Spring Branch, Texas
Ogden, Utah
Alexandria, Virginia
Arlington, Virginia
Springfield, Virginia
Blaine, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

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