Green Needlegrass Information: How To Grow Green Needlegrass Plants

Growing Green Needlegrass Plants
Green needlegrass
(Image credit: Matt Lavin)

Green needlegrass is a cool-season grass that is native to the prairies of North America. It can be used both commercially in hay production, and ornamentally in lawns and gardens. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow green needlegrass.

Green Needlegrass Information

What is green needlegrass? Green needlegrass (known as both Stipa viridula and Nassella viridula) is a cool-season perennial bunchgrass. Native to the prairies of North America, it ranges as far south as Arizona. Its blades reach a mature height of 1 to 2 feet (31-61 cm.). In early summer, it puts up flower shoots that extend the height of the grass to 16 to 36 inches (41-61 cm.). It is hardy down to USDA zone 4. Green needlegrass grows in the spring and autumn, though its tall, wispy flowers and seed heads appear and mature in the heat of summer, when the plant is technically dormant, so it offers good ornamental interest for all three seasons.

How to Grow Green Needlegrass

Green needlegrass care is relatively simple. It grows best in moist areas with high humidity, and often prefers the edge of lawns and fields, where extra water collects. Once it is established, it is relatively drought tolerant, though it benefits from monthly deep watering. It should be grown in areas that receive at least 17 inches (43 cm.) of annual rainfall. It grows well in full sun to partial shade, and sandy to loamy soil. It can be grown in containers, and also works well as a transition grass planted between flower beds and lawn. Growing green needlegrass as part of a grass mix for hay and for livestock grazing is also common. It is a nutritious and well-liked addition to pasture seed mixes, especially because it recovers very well after grazing.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.