Mexican feather grass

Top 5 Mexican Feather Grass Companion Plants and Landscaping Ideas

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Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) or needlegrass is a showy ornamental grass with a fuzzy appearance that can soften up the look of hard garden spaces. 

Important note: Mexican feather grass is a serious weed to Australia. It is unpalatable to stock, drought tolerant, hardy, and difficult to control. You need to contact the authority to dispose of this weed. This article is not intended for readers from Australia.

These wispy plants will create a wavy or flowing effect in your garden and will add multi seasonal interest as the foliage transforms from a lime-green hue in spring to golden white in fall. 

These ornamental grasses are very functional for creating showy containers, and beautiful borders, or for filling out garden spaces and prairies. 

Mexican Feather grass will look especially charming if you combine it with other beautiful grass varieties like maiden grass or oat grass or if you pair it with flowering plant species like coneflowers, lavender, sage, or blanket flowers.

In this guide, we are going to take a closer look at the best companion plants for Mexican Feather Grass and we discuss different ways to use them in your landscapes. 

What to Grow with Mexican Feather Grass

Mexican feather grass should be planted in full sun or partial shade because it won’t flower in deep shade positions and the growth will be stunted. 

These grasses are relatively drought-tolerant and should be planted in well-drained soil. You only need to water this grass variety during dry spells.

Not all plant species will grow well in the same hot, sunny, and dry areas that feather grass requires. For successful companion planting, you should grow this grass variety with companions that also require lots of direct sun and dryer conditions like the ones we are going to discuss right now. 

Other Ornamental Grasses

ornamental grasses

If you want to create a soft textured or layered look in your garden then you can combine other ornamental grass varieties like Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis), blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens), or feather reed grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora) in your garden spaces. 

The mixture of grasses will create a sense of movement in your garden and will add lots of vertical interest.

When you are selecting other ornamental grasses, you should be careful to choose varieties with similar growing needs. 

Some ornamental grass species are not drought and heat tolerant and won’t grow well alongside feather grass. 

To use these grasses for dimension, it is best to layer them with taller species in the back and shorter species in the front. This type of pairing can be very functional for slopes, steps, or for showy mixed borders. 

White Coneflowers

Hardy white flowers like white swan coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’) will look striking against a backdrop of Mexican feather grass, especially when these grasses transform into light golden hues in the autumn season. 

White swans should be planted in full sun and in well-drained soil. They can handle dry to medium moisture levels and will flourish next to Mexican feather grass since they are heat, drought, and humidity tolerant. 

These charming flowers will grow up to 24 inches tall while Mexican feather grass can reach a height of up to 2 feet. Because of this height difference, it is usually best to grow echinacea flowers toward the front of your garden. 

Russian Sage

If you want to add lots of color and texture to your garden then you should consider growing Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

This herbaceous shrub will attract lots of pollinating insects like bees and butterflies to your garden with its fragrant purple flowers. The evergreen shrub is also great for keeping your garden lush and full when Mexican Feather Grass becomes dormant in winter.

Russian sage performs best if it is planted in full sun and it is heat and drought-tolerant so you don’t have to water it too often.

These shrubs can become quite dense and can grow up to 5 feet tall which means you should use it as a backdrop behind Mexican feather grass or use it to create showy mixed borders alongside the ornamental grasses. 


full sun lavender

Lavender (Lavandula) is a perfect plant for dry and sunny gardens and can be a great Mexican feather grass companion plant because it will add lots of charm and color with its wispy purple flower spikes. Lots of butterflies and bees will also flock to your garden thanks to the wonderful fragrance that these flowers produce.

Lavender should be planted in direct sun and it prefers dry free draining soil. If you want this plant to thrive then you should only water it during dry spells. 

These beautiful flowers can grow up to 3 feet tall. Because of their similar height, you can easily mix clumps of Mexican feather grass and lavender all over your garden to create lots of movement and vertical interest. 

Blanket Flowers

Blanket flowers (Gaillardia) are great plants to include in your garden if you want to fill out your garden bed or container. The vivid red and yellow flowers will also form a striking contrast with your Mexican feather grass.

These daisy-like flowers will flourish and bloom vigorously if you plant them in a sunny and warm spot in your garden. The Mexican feather grass companions prefer dry climates and only need to be watered when the soil is completely dry.

These vivid flowers have a similar height to Mexican feather grass and can easily be mixed and mass-planted all over a garden bed to create a showy and full wildflower effect. 

What NOT to Grow with Mexican Feather Grass

It is best not to grow Mexican weather grass with plant species that require lots of moisture and shade because moisture and shade-loving species won’t survive in the sunny parts of your garden. 

Avoid planting species like Chinese fountain grass, Japanese forest grass, mondo grass, begonias, and ferns next to Mexican feather grass because they are unsuitable companions. 

You should also be careful not to position these grasses underneath tall trees or dense shrubs because they won’t grow well if they don’t get enough sunlight.

Landscaping Ideas for Mexican Feather Grass and Companions

Gardeners love to use ornamental grasses in outdoor spaces because they have so many different applications. 

Here is a quick look at some of the best ways to use Mexican feather grass and companion species to create showy garden spaces. 

Container Gardens

Mexican feather grass will add lots of movement and texture to your container gardens.

You can grow these vivid grasses in brightly colored containers alongside other good container species like sage, blanket flowers, or lavender to create a showy container collection. 

Driveway Borders

Fountain grass and all of the companion species we mentioned on our list are ideal for creating showy borders around gravel or paved driveways.

The mixture of grass and flowers will create a very interesting effect and will add more contrast between your driveway and the rest of your garden. 

Slopes and Steps

Feather grass is often used to accentuate garden steps or to create an interesting effect on slopes. 

Mix clumps of Mexican feather grass with hardy shrubs and flowers alongside your walkways, and steps, or layer them on slopes for a more whimsical garden space. 

Final Thoughts

There are many great ways to use Mexican feather grass and other ornamental grasses in your garden. You can also pair these beautiful grasses with companion plants like lavender, sage, blanket flowers, or coneflowers to add more color and texture to your garden.

We hope that this guide gave you lots of inspiration for your own landscape and will help you create showy spaces filled with life and movement.

*image by saharrr/depositphotos

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