If you have seen pheasants in the wild, then you will see how this grass has acquired its common name - Pheasant Tail Grass would be better. The other common name used is Korean Feather Grass, but that is applied to several other grasses as well - one of the problems of 'common' names! It also has an alternative name of Achnatherum just to confuse things.
Stipa calamagrostis forms a dens mound of slightly metallic green foliage throughout summer, with a good display of silvery sheen flowers - light brown tinged mauve.
The flowers are feathery, and nod gracefully from the end of arching stems.
Stipa calamagrostis is a perennial grass - but not evergreen, so dies down to ground level each late winter. Before doing so, it will please for many months - starting early summer and well into winter.
This Stipa is a showy grass specimen with an overall height of around 1 metre, and a similar spread.
In wet weather, the rain will weigh the flowers down - almost to ground, but they will soon cheer up once dried out.
Whilst Stipa calamagrostis and its splendid flower spikes are a delight in summer, this plant comes into its own during the early autumn through to mid winter.
As can be seen in the picture above, the seedheads that take over from the flowers, stay on the plant a long time and are one of the many aspects that make the grasses so popular - A long period of interest for the gardener.
The image on the left shows Stipa calamagrostis - Feather Grass - Achnatherum - in late summer - just as the flowers are turning to seedheads, but still with its bluish green foliage. In a few weeks after this image was taken, the whole plant would have turned to light straw brown.
Stipa grasses are generally fast growing grasses, and this cultivar is no different. It will reach the height of 1 metre each year after shooting up from the seemingly dead root stock. As well as being a fast growing grass for height, it will also spread to its mature width my mid summer.
Yet another plus for this grass, is that it rarely needs any care or attention (Don't you just love it!).
The main thing to be concerned about is where you actually plant it. Whilst this is important with all plants, Grasses are so versatile, that a little extra thought need to go into its planting position. It will be there for a long time, and is not the easiest of plants to transplant.
In the perennial border, it can be isolated with a surrounding of shorter plant - especially those with a contrasting or complimentary colour for the autumn period. Immediately, the sedum spectabilis springs to mind - as does a side by side planting of Penstemons. The main thing being that Stipa calamagrostis will droop - Not sag!
It is suited to planting with shrubs - again with autumn colours in mind, but will also be of interest for longer periods of time than most shrubs. It stands out well because of its different form - and also the flower and seedhead colours.
Most grasses can be grown in containers - and this Stipa is no exception. The container will have to be robust and at least 18in 45 cm across. Maybe grow this way for one year, and then plant oyt in the garden the following spring.
Stipa Grasses are happy in dry areas of the garden - and preferably in an open aspect - though I have seen them growing well in woodland clearings - quite spectacular and doing well without artificial watering.
Problems with Stipa calamagrostis - The Feather Grass or Pheasant's Tail - None! Enjoy.