Stipa gigantea - The Giant Feather Grass or Golden Oat Grass - is normally an evergreen, but sometimes in severe winters - or some planting situations - merely semi evergreen. Whichever, it is a perennial so will grow back each year - quickly! It prefers a dry soil - but will tolerate damp but not waterlogged.
An open situation with no crowding by other plants is best - full sun even better. Think about the natural light from the low autumn sun when deciding where to plant your Stipa gigantea. The tall seed heads will show up well if planted where the sun can shine from the side, with a dark background.
It has a reputation for being an invasive grass, but this is unjustified in my opinion. It forms a dense tuft of often untidy foliage, but does not send out any underground stems or rhizomes with which to spread. It certainly produces a few seedlings in the early spring, and these can pop up anywhere within the garden. They are easily pulled out, or better still, popped into pots to grow on and give to friends - or sell off at plant fairs!
Stipa gigantea is different to most ornamental grasses - Stipas or not. It has long flower stems - often in excess of 2metres in height. The flowers and following seed heads on top are not as dense or showy as the other tall grass - Pampas.
They are much daintier and not as dense as other grasses.
The flower spikes are happy waving about in a breeze well above the main plants growing below it. For this reason it is a welcome addition to shrub or perennial planting schemes, or simply planted as a stand alone specimen in its own bed. I have never seen a full bed of Stipa gigantea. Let me have a picture if you so decide, but strive to get a bit of other interest between the clumps of foliage.
Penstemons, asters or maybe some Rudbeckia. Sorry - I wander!
Stipa gigantea is related to the agricultural crop of oats that the farmer is happy to grow, but of course much taller. Like all Oat grasses, the seeds germinate readily, so no problem sowing them to grow in the spring. If you already have a plant growing in the garden, just take a walk and harvest the seedlings you find. If you decide to sow seeds, then early spring is the time, and keep them in a cool place. Sow in seed trays and pot up individual seedlings to grow on and plant out.
They normally flower in the first year, but an early sowing and growing on well will be needed for 100% certainty.
The clump can also be divided in the spring, and in any event will almost certainly need a bit of a tidy up. 'Combing' with a garden rake is my preferred method. Wear gloves to avoid grass cuts to the palms of your hand - very painful!
If you have read any of the other pages, you will have already found out that they have no insect or disease problems.
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