Do You Know This Grass?

Plant a pop of techno drama in your garden beds or containers with this showy grass.

For a fun addition to containers and gardens, look no further than fiber optic grass. Though technically not a grass (it’s in the closely related sedge family), this unique plant forms a spreading, grasslike clump of thin, cylindrical stems. The stems grow upright at first, then arch gracefully, creating a rounded fountain shape. Small silvery white flower heads develop on each stem tip, making the plant look a bit like a bundle of fiber optic light strands. Fiber optic grass is ideal for tall containers or hanging baskets where its stems can cascade freely.


Common name: Fiber optic grass, low bulrush
Botanical name: Isolepis cernua
Plant type: Annual or short-lived perennial
Zones: 8 to 11 as a perennial; all zones as an annual
Height: 6 to 10 inches
Family: Cyperaceae


Growing conditions

  • Sun: Full sun or partial shade
  • Soil: Moisure-retentive loam, clay, or potting mix (in containers)
  • Moisture: Needs constant moisture


Care

  • Mulch: None
  • Pruning: Cut back in late winter
  • Fertilizer: Apply diluted soluble fertilizer as needed


Propagation

  • Seeds
  • Division


Pests and diseases

  • No serious problems


Cultivars

  • ‘Live Wire’ is essentially the same as the species.


Garden notes

  • Fiber optic grass loves moisture, making it a great choice for bog gardens or the edge of ponds and water gardens.
  • Fiber optic grass can be overwintered indoors as a houseplant if provided with bright light and cool temperatures.
  • Fiber optic grass provides a great head of “hair” when planted in novelty face pots.


All in the family

  • Fiber optic grass is a member of the sedge family (Cyperaceae), a large group containing over 5,000 species of grasslike plants.
  • The largest genus in the family is Carex, which includes many moisture-loving ornamentals.
  • Most sedge family plants have triangular stems, though oval-stemmed fiber optic grass is one of the exceptions.

  • Where to buy
    Garden Harvest Supply, gardenharvestsupply.com
    Park Seed, parkseed.com
    Santa Rosa Gardens, santarosagardens.com


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