Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tufted Hair Grass, Hair Grass, Hassock Grass, Tussock Grass
Deschampsia cespitosa 'Northern Lights'

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Deschampsia (deh-SHAMP-see-uh) (Info)
Species: cespitosa (kess-pi-TOH-suh) (Info)
Cultivar: Northern Lights

Synonym:Deschampsia caespitosa

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

6 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Flowers are good for drying and preserving

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

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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By stevenova
Thumbnail #1 of Deschampsia cespitosa by stevenova

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By Calif_Sue
Thumbnail #3 of Deschampsia cespitosa by Calif_Sue


4 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Sep 20, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

As the name suggests, this is a clump-former and does not spread. The flower scapes can reach 3', but the foliage is only about 16" tall. This is a fairly small grass.

This is a cool-season grass, so it emerges from dormancy earlier than most in the spring, and it blooms in late spring (June here). It is evergreen in mild winter climates, but only semi-evergreen here in Boston Z6a.

It is also one of the most shade tolerant of true grasses---mine did well and bloomed well in dappled shade with almost no direct sun, here in Boston Z6a. Looks great when backlit.

It is not long-lived---mine lasted about 5 years. Regular division may help you keep it going longer.

It likes cool moist climates, and does better in Vermont than in LA. It is said to self-sow, sometimes aggressively, when conditions are right, but mine never did. Seedlings will not be variegated.

Positive anelson On Sep 19, 2014, anelson from Birchwood, WI (Zone 3b) wrote:

This is not a big burly grass here in Northern Wisconsin - but it is still hardy and very pretty, with slender leaves and very tall lacy seed heads. I have it growing in part shade, and it looks lovely.

Positive caroling On Jul 15, 2008, caroling from Albany, OR wrote:

My grass receives about 3 hours of mid-day sun. The soil gets quite dry between waterings in the summer, but the grass looks great. In winter, the Willamette Valley is cloudy and very rainy, with temperatures down into the 20's, yet this grass continues to look great. The stalks stay very upright and tidy. A wonderful all-season plant. I highly recommend it!

Positive jeanetteii On Jun 6, 2008, jeanetteii from Littleton, CO (Zone 5a) wrote:

I got a sad-looking specimen for cheap last fall from a nursery's "clearance" table. We planted this grass on the northwest edge of several aspen trees, so it is definitely in part shade. However, the sun is pretty bright here in northern Colorado. This plant is doing splendidly and we just love it. It started growing quite early this season compared to other plants, and now it is about 2 feet tall. We plan to grow more.

Neutral Connie_G On Apr 23, 2008, Connie_G from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I just bought one of these tufts of grass from Lowe's...our BB garden center / home supply store in Texas for 7. I've never seen it offered here before. My plant stick says "PART SUN--Morning Sun Only" and the PlantFiles says FULL sun. I guess it depends on the Zone, and our Texas August sun would probably damage it. I'll try to update as it grows (or doesn't).
Lowe's has a 1 year just has to save the receipt, so it was an easy decision to's incredible looking with all the color variation in one tuft!


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

San Jose, California
Littleton, Colorado
Bolingbrook, Illinois
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Albany, Oregon
Renton, Washington
Birchwood, Wisconsin

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