This month we’d like to introduce a grass which can be used as ground cover.

This month we’d like to introduce a grass which can be used as ground cover.  Our chosen plant, Scirpus cernuus, is similar to Festuca glauca in terms of growth and habitat but differs in that it is bright green in colour with delicate, slender leaves.

Fibre Optic Grass – Scirpus Cernuus (Isolepsis cernua)

A member of the cyperaceae family this is a long-lived grass growing to a height of 30 – 35cm.  It produces a tiny white flower, and eventually seed, on the end of each stem.  It flowers in spring and early summer and then the small seeds set.  It gets its common name of ‘Fibre Optic Grass’ from the starburst form of its leaves with the small white flowers on their tips.  When in flower a mature specimen resembles a fibre optic lamp.  In Germany it is commonly known as the ‘Wig Plant’.  The thin green leaves radiating from a central point enable the plant to form pleasing green mounds.

Whilst this plant is generally classified as sub-tropical, it can also withstand cold and frost and is said to survive temperatures down to –12C.  It likes lots of water and is happiest on the edge of ponds or in a grouping of bog plants. It will survive in sun or dappled shade, and looks good planted in a container.  Small birds will eat its seeds and take its leaves for nest building material.  As well as growing from seed it can also be propagated by root division.