This is a grass that is not often planted and is not as popular as many of the other Stipa group. It does not carry the name of Stipa splendens for nothing, for it really is a splendid grass.
Stipa splendens is a perennial but deciduous. It will re-grow every spring and is totally hardy.
The overall height and spread is around 4ft - 1.2m. The flowers are held erect but later arching above the dense foliage mound.
The pendant flower spikes are quite loose but dense in structure, and tend to droop and look a little bedraggled after heavy rain. However, they soon dry out an perk up into the feathery plumes as in the image above.
The flowers start off in early summer, white with a hint of mauve colouring. this then fades to the bronze in the image, and later into seedheads which are attractive, and persist well into winter. The foliage turns a good light straw brown in early winter and persists for some time.
Overall Stipa splendens has a long period of interest in the garden, and can be planted in many different areas - borders and beds associated with perennials and shrubs, or at the edge of a rock garden - or even as the main feature plant on top of the rock garden. It is also suited to planting on dry banks.
Its main requirement is sun in a non shady situation Dappled or light partial shade will do no harm, and it is also happy as a semi-woodland grass - but not overhung with tree branches.
The foliage - which forms a dense mound - is dark green and contrasts well with the lighter flowers. The dead clump of leaves are frequented in the autumn and winter by birds scavenging for food.
As with other Stipa grasses, Stipa splendens does not have any insect of fungal problems. Just rake out the dead straw grass leaves in spring, and it will soon burst into growth.
Stipa splendens - the Feather Tail Grass - is easy to propagate - either by seed sown in trays in cold glasshouse in mid spring, or by dividing the plant as growth re-starts in early spring.
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