Content Detail

Feather reed grass is a hybrid of non-native grasses. It is a clumping, cool season grass that offers a very narrow, upright habit and interest in winter.

  • Family (English) Grass
  • Family (botanic) Poaceae
  • Tree or plant type Grass, Perennial
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Other
  • Shape or form Narrow, Upright

Size and Form:

Feather reed grass is a fairly narrow, upright grass. It grows about 3 feet tall in foliage and up to 5 feet tall when in flower and fruit.

Native geographic location and habitat:

This plant is of hybrid origin.

Leaf description:

The long slender leaves are dark green in summer and turn tan to buff in winter.

Flower description:

The tiny flowers are numerous and held in upright, fluffy clusters. Flowers clusters open green with subtle undertones of silver and purple. Flowering time is late May into June.

Fruit description:

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) form along the upright clusters that held the flowers. They start out golden yellow with a pinkish tinge and then mature to a tan or buff color for winter.

Plant care:

Feather reed grass is best growth in a sunny site with a moist soil. It is a clumping grass and does not produce viable seeds, making it fairly low-maintenance. It tolerates heavy clay soils. Although this is a cool season grass, it tends to act more like a warm season grass in northern climates and its most active growth occurs in summer. It will remain standing in winter and can act as winter interest. Since this grass remains attractive through winter, it should not be cut back until early spring, before new growth begins. At that time, it can be cut down to the ground.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

No serious problems. Will not self-sow like many other grasses, so seedlings are not a problem.

Avalanche feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Avalanche’):

This cultivar has variegated foliage, with a white stripe in the center and green edges.

Eldorado feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Eldorado’):  

A variegated cultivar with green and gold stripes.

Karl Foerster (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’):  

A slightly more compact cultivar that blooms somewhat earlier than the species.

Overdam (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Overdam’):

 Variegated leaves with green and creamy white stripes. A more compact variety, reaching only 3 to 4 feet when in flower.


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