Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.
If you are planting a Children’s Garden or just trying to get a child interested in gardening, add bunny tail grass to your garden. Its soft, fluffy flowers look like rabbits’ tails and just beg to be touched. They are beloved by young and old alike.
What is Bunny Tail Grass?
Bunny tail grass (Lagurus ovatus) is a small ornamental grass that is native to the Mediterranean area. It is also known as hare’s-tail. The plant is only hardy in zones 8 – 10. North of zone 8, it is grown as an annual but it will readily reseed in your garden. This habit of reseeding has led to it naturalizing in parts of North America, Great Britain, Ireland and Australia. In some locations it is considered an invasive.
Bunny tail flowers are very popular for use in dried arrangements. They do not shatter, releasing their seeds, like the flowers of other ornamental grasses. This means that dried bunny tail flowers last for months or even years.
Bunny tail grass is small, only 12 – 24 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The leaves, which are long slender like other grasses, are a gray green color.
The flowers are borne in panicles (clusters) which are 2 inches in size. They look and feel soft and fuzzy, just like a rabbit’s tail. It is almost impossible not to touch them.
Bloom time is summer through fall. The flowers start out cream in color but as the season advances to fall, they start to turn a tan color.
How to Grow Bunny Tail Grass
Most gardeners purchase their bunny tail grass as plants from their local nursery. Plant them 12 inches apart in a sunny part of your garden. Like most grasses, they need full sun which is at least 6 – 8 hours of sunlight each day.
Bunny tail grass makes an excellent edging along a path where its fuzzy flowers can softly brush against visitors’ ankles as they walk by.
The plants need well-drained soil. If your soil is clay, either grow this plant in a container or raised bed. They need the drainage or their roots will rot, killing the plant. They are one of the few plants that will thrive in sandy soil if you live near the shore.
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Because they are Mediterranean plants, this grass is drought tolerant once it is established. Water it well when you plant it. For the rest of the summer, you will only need to water it if your area is experiencing a period of drought. Then you will want to water it every few days until the rain returns.
There is no need to fertilize your plants. This grass prefers nutrient poor soil.
The plants will die from the first frost, leaving only the flowers which will naturally dry on their stems. You can leave them in your garden to add winter interest. Or you can harvest the flowers before your first frost and dry them as you would any other dried flower for use in dried arrangements.
How to Grow Bunny Tail Grass From Seed
Bunny tail grass is easy to grow from seed. The best way is to direct sow the seeds in your garden in the spring after your last frost. Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep and keep them well watered. They should germinate in 2 – 3 weeks. Thin the seedlings to 12 inches apart.
You can also start your seeds indoors 6 – 8 weeks before your last frost. Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep in a container filled with pre-moistened soil. I always water the soil before I plant seeds because I’ve found that if I wait until after I plant my seeds to water, both the soil and the seeds wash away.
The seeds need cool temperatures to germinate so place your container in a room that is 55⁰F - 65⁰F. This mimics the cool temperatures of spring that the seeds would experience if it were planted outdoors. You can expect germination in 2 – 3 weeks.
You can transplant your seedlings into your garden after your last frost when they have grown their second set of true leaves. Space them 12 inches apart. Water them well until they are established and then you can stop watering them unless your area is experiencing a drought. Then you should water every few days until the rain returns.
© 2020 Caren White
Caren White (author) on December 17, 2020:
They are fun! Everyone says that they are planting it for the kids, but it's really for themselves.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 17, 2020:
I am enjoying your gardening articles. These fuzzy-looking flowers do appear to be soft.