Ponytail Grass (Nassella tenuissima, Stipa tenuissima)

Ornamental grasses are definitely something special to add to the landscape. They add texture, height, and a much needed contrast to flowering plants and wide leaved foliage plants. Ponytail grass (Nassella tenuissima) is a great ornamental grass to choose for many gardens. It goes by several common names like Mexican Feather Grass, Silky Thread Grass, and the aforementioned pony tail grass. It’s a beautiful grass planted next to hardscape areas especially around rocks.

Recently I revamped my parents fence garden using some plants I purchased for Mother’s Day as well as some that were preexisting in the landscape. The ponytail grass was one that they purchased last year but didn’t have a location for it. They overwintered it in the garden until I moved it for them into the newly remodeled garden (I’ll show you tomorrow)!  When ponytail grass is backlit by the sunlight it looks fantastic as it billows in the wind. Grasses in general can add an element of motion to the landscape.

Ponytail Grass in the garden

Ponytail grass is recorded as being hardy to zone 7 but it seems to do fine in zone 6 gardens. It overwintered well with an extra cold winter this year and you can see how the grass looks now. There is one small warning to take note of – it may reseed. That is not a major issue, by any means, as the seedlings should be easy to pick out of your garden. You may just end up with extra plants to spread out or plant enmass. I liked the feathery appearance of the ponytail grass so much that I bought four of them today for my garden, now where should they go?

Another great ornamental grasses: Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris).

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About Dave

Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.


  1. I’ve come to really like grasses but living in town I have to stay with the ones that aren’t invasive. I haven’t found too many that aren’t.

  2. Grasses are really something Dave.

    They give movement.


  3. I discovered this lovely grass a few years ago. I started out with some in a pot, but it’s been moved to my border. I think this is my favorite grass, so I’m glad to know others love it, too. I can’t wait to see the revamped garden.

  4. You’ll find the perfect place Dave! I love this grass. It does look beautiful backlit. it’s been in the back garden since January…the only thing that concerns me is drainage! It’s being tested with all the rain and this clay soil! gail

  5. Stipa grasses are really nice. I have quite a few in my garden now. As you said, they reseed pretty easily…. but I like having multiples in the garden, they give it soft movement. I just comb my fingers through in the spring to rid the plant of dead foliage.

  6. Want to hear something cool? Mine overwintered OUTSIDE this past winter! I’m in zone 5 and we had a particularly harsh, cold winter with lots of ice, too. I had three, and not the entire plant came back, but that’s often the case with grasses here anyway. Kim from A Study in Contrasts told me I should try it, because she gets hers to overwinter. I mulched it heavily and was pleasantly surprised when I started seeing green about a months ago. :-)

  7. One of my favorite Ornamental Grasses. I had some over winter fine in Lexington, KY. Before I moved I divide some and planted two divisions at my grandmas house and they over wintered fine in Glasgow, KY. I brought some down with me after Christmas it is doing great.


  8. That is a nice looking grass. I’m always a bit leary since some can be so invasive. The purple fountain grass is a necessity in my garden each year (not hardy here). :)

  9. I had 2 pony tail grasses last year in planters for the first time. My daughter picked them up at a green house for me. I covered one with mulch that I had in a large wooden barrel planter. We had a mlld winter with very little snow. I left the other one in a garden shed with mulch around the plant. I haven't checked them yet as it is early for this.
    I am wondering if I can grow one from seed. I saved some of the seed from the top of the plant itself in the fall. Is it possible to grow them this way?

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