Crinkled Hair Grass (Deschampsia Flexuosa)

Plant: Table of Contents

Crinkled Hair Grass (Deschampsia flexuosa): A Plant with Versatile Uses and Benefits

In the world of ornamental grasses, crinkled hair grass (Deschampsia flexuosa) holds a special place due to its elegant appearance and adaptability to various environmental conditions. This native grass species can be a valuable addition to gardens, landscapes, and natural habitats, offering aesthetic appeal along with numerous ecological benefits. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of crinkled hair grass, from its cultural requirements and maintenance to its ecological significance and uses in garden design. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a newbie in the plant world, this guide will provide you with valuable insights into the world of Deschampsia flexuosa, unraveling its secrets and potential in horticulture and ecological conservation.

What is crinkled hair grass (Deschampsia flexuosa)?

Deschampsia flexuosa, commonly known as crinkled hair grass, is a fine-textured, clump-forming grass species belonging to the family Poaceae. This perennial grass is native to Europe, where it thrives in various habitats, including woodland edges, heathlands, and grassy slopes. It is recognized for its delicate, wispy appearance, with slender, arching leaves and airy panicles of tiny flowers that sway gracefully in the breeze. The common name “crinkled hair grass” is derived from the slightly crinkled or wavy nature of its foliage, which adds a unique texture to the landscape.

Crinkled hair grass is valued for its versatility in garden and landscape settings. Its graceful, cascading growth habit makes it an attractive choice for naturalistic plantings, rock gardens, and woodland landscapes. It also serves as an excellent complement to flowering perennials and shrubs, providing a soft, verdant backdrop to colorful blooms. Furthermore, its ecological value as a native species and its adaptability to various growing conditions make it a desirable option for sustainable landscaping and conservation efforts.

Key Takeaways – Crinkled Hair Grass (Deschampsia flexuosa)

Before delving into the specific aspects of growing and caring for crinkled hair grass, let’s outline the key takeaways associated with this versatile plant species:

  • Deschampsia flexuosa is a fine-textured, clump-forming grass native to Europe, prized for its delicate, cascading foliage and airy panicles of flowers.
  • This ornamental grass is well-suited to a range of landscape uses, including naturalistic plantings, rock gardens, and woodland landscapes, where its graceful appearance adds texture and movement.
  • Apart from its ornamental value, crinkled hair grass offers ecological benefits, serving as a native species that supports biodiversity and contributes to habitat conservation.
  • When cultivating crinkled hair grass, it is important to consider its cultural requirements, including water, sunlight, soil, and maintenance practices, to ensure its optimal growth and performance in the landscape.

With these key points in mind, let’s explore the cultural considerations and essential care guidelines for growing and maintaining Deschampsia flexuosa in garden and landscape settings.

Cultural Requirements of Crinkled Hair Grass

Successfully growing crinkled hair grass hinges on understanding and addressing its specific cultural needs, including its preferences for water, sunlight, soil, and maintenance practices. By providing the ideal growing conditions, you can ensure that this ornamental grass thrives and enhances the beauty of your outdoor space. Let’s delve into each of these aspects in detail.


As with many ornamental grass species, crinkled hair grass exhibits a degree of drought tolerance once established, making it relatively low-maintenance in terms of watering. However, during its initial establishment period and prolonged dry spells, it may benefit from supplemental watering to support healthy growth and prevent stress. In general, the following guidelines can help you determine the appropriate watering regimen for crinkled hair grass:

  • Establishment Phase: During the first growing season after planting, provide regular watering to keep the root zone consistently moist, allowing the plant to establish a strong root system. Inadequate moisture during this critical phase can impede growth and result in a weaker, less resilient plant.
  • Mature Plants: Once established, crinkled hair grass can tolerate moderate drought conditions; however, providing occasional deep watering during extended periods of dryness can help maintain its vigor and appearance. When watering established plants, ensure that the soil is allowed to slightly dry out between irrigation sessions to prevent waterlogged conditions.
  • Soil Drainage: Pay attention to the soil drainage in the planting area, as excessive moisture retention can pose a risk of root rot and other issues. If the soil has poor drainage, consider amending it with organic matter to improve its permeability and prevent waterlogging.

Understanding the water needs of crinkled hair grass and adjusting your watering practices accordingly can contribute to the plant’s overall health and longevity in the landscape.


Crinkled hair grass thrives in a range of lighting conditions, displaying a commendable level of adaptability to both full sun and partial shade. Understanding its preferences for sunlight exposure can aid in selecting an optimal planting location and designing complementary plantings. Here’s a breakdown of its sunlight requirements:

  • Full Sun: In regions with relatively mild summers, crinkled hair grass can be grown in full sun, where it benefits from ample light exposure, promoting robust growth and vibrant coloring. However, in warmer climates, particularly those characterized by intense sun and high temperatures, providing some afternoon shade can help prevent leaf scorch and maintain the plant’s overall vitality.
  • Partial Shade: Crinkled hair grass performs admirably in partial shade, making it a suitable choice for shaded areas in the landscape, such as woodland borders, dappled light settings, and beneath deciduous trees. In these environments, its delicate foliage can lend a soft, ethereal quality to the surroundings, enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal.
  • Adaptability: One of the key strengths of crinkled hair grass is its adaptability to varying light conditions, allowing it to thrive in diverse landscape settings. This versatility makes it a valuable asset in garden design, where it can be utilized to create visual interest and balance within mixed plantings.

By choosing planting sites that align with its sunlight preferences and monitoring its performance in different light exposures, you can optimize the growth and appearance of crinkled hair grass in your outdoor spaces.


The soil quality and composition play a significant role in the health and growth of crinkled hair grass, influencing factors such as nutrient availability, water retention, and root development. Understanding its soil preferences and making suitable amendments can contribute to the plant’s overall vigor and performance. Consider the following guidelines when preparing the planting area for crinkled hair grass:

  • Well-drained Soil: Crinkled hair grass fares best in well-drained, loamy soil that allows water to percolate through the root zone while retaining sufficient moisture. Soil with poor drainage, such as heavy clay, can lead to waterlogged conditions, potentially causing root rot and other issues. If the native soil on your site is heavy or compacted, consider incorporating organic matter such as compost, peat moss, or aged manure to improve its structure and drainage.
  • pH Range: This grass species exhibits adaptability to a broad pH range, with a preference for slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil conditions (pH 6.0-7.5). Conducting a soil test before planting can provide valuable insights into the pH and nutrient levels, allowing you to make informed adjustments if necessary.

Understanding the soil requirements of crinkled hair grass and preparing the planting area accordingly can set the stage for successful growth and development, supporting the long-term health of the plant.


Proper nutrition is essential for the vitality and aesthetic appeal of crinkled hair grass, with judicious fertilization contributing to robust growth and vibrant foliage. While this grass is generally low-maintenance in terms of fertilizer requirements, applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer can provide the necessary nutrients for optimal performance. Here are some considerations for fertilizing crinkled hair grass:

  • Initial Feeding: During the initial planting phase, incorporating a balanced, slow-release fertilizer into the soil can provide a nutrient boost to support the establishment of the grass and promote healthy root development.
  • Subsequent Fertilization: Once established, crinkled hair grass often thrives without regular fertilization, particularly in nutrient-rich soils. However, if you notice signs of nutrient deficiency, such as pale foliage or reduced vigor, a light application of a balanced fertilizer in early spring can help revitalize the plant and restore its vitality.

By using fertilizers judiciously and following the recommended application rates, you can enhance the overall health and appearance of crinkled hair grass while minimizing the risk of over-fertilization.

Pruning and Maintenance Practices

In garden and landscape settings, maintaining the appearance and health of crinkled hair grass involves periodic pruning and general upkeep to address issues such as dead foliage, excessive thatch, or encroachment on neighboring plants. Pruning this ornamental grass is relatively straightforward and can be performed with basic hand tools, allowing you to refine its appearance and prevent the accumulation of unsightly debris. Here are some key guidelines for pruning and maintenance:

  • Spring Cleanup: In early spring, remove any dead or discolored foliage from the previous season, cutting the stems back to near ground level to make way for fresh growth. This rejuvenates the plant and encourages the emergence of new, healthy foliage.
  • Thinning and Dividing: Over time, crinkled hair grass may develop dense clumps or exhibit reduced vigor, indicating the need for thinning or division. In late spring or early fall, carefully divide the plant into smaller sections using a sharp garden spade, ensuring each division retains a portion of healthy roots and shoots. Replant the divisions at the desired locations to promote renewed growth and prevent overcrowding.


Propagating crinkled hair grass allows you to expand your plant collection or refresh existing plantings, yielding additional specimens to enhance your landscape design. This grass species can be propagated through both division and seed sowing, providing multiple avenues for increasing its presence in the garden. Let’s explore the two primary propagation methods for crinkled hair grass:

  • Division: Dividing mature clumps of crinkled hair grass is a simple and effective approach to propagation, typically performed in early spring or early fall. Using a sharp spade, carefully separate the clumps into smaller sections, each containing a portion of healthy roots and shoots. Once divided, replant the sections at the desired locations, ensuring they receive adequate moisture and protection during the establishment phase.
  • Seed Sowing: Crinkled hair grass can also be propagated from seeds, offering an alternative method for increasing its numbers. Collect mature seeds from the plant in late summer to early fall, and sow them in well-prepared seedbeds or containers. Keep the soil consistently moist and provide protection from extreme temperatures to facilitate germination. Once the seedlings have developed sufficient growth, they can be transplanted to their permanent locations.

Understanding the propagation methods for crinkled hair grass empowers you to expand its presence in the landscape and share its beauty with other gardening enthusiasts.

Crinkled Hair Grass in Container Gardens

The versatility and graceful appearance of crinkled hair grass make it an intriguing candidate for container gardens, where it can serve as a focal point or a complement to other ornamental plants. When cultivating this grass species in containers, several factors come into play, including pot selection, soil composition, and general care practices. Let’s explore the essentials of growing crinkled hair grass in containers:

  • Pot Selection: Opt for spacious containers with adequate drainage holes to ensure good aeration and prevent waterlogged conditions. Both ceramic and lightweight plastic pots can be suitable choices, provided they offer sufficient room for the grass’s root system to develop.
  • Potting Mix: Use a well-draining, nutrient-rich potting mix designed for ornamental grasses or perennial plants. Incorporate organic matter such as compost or peat moss to promote moisture retention without sacrificing drainage.
  • Watering and Maintenance: Container-grown crinkled hair grass may require more frequent watering than its counterparts in the ground, as the soil in containers tends to dry out more rapidly. Monitor the soil moisture regularly and provide water when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Additionally, prune any dead or discolored foliage as needed to maintain the plant’s appearance.

Cultivating crinkled hair grass in containers allows you to showcase its elegance and movement on patios, balconies, or other outdoor spaces, adding a touch of whimsy and natural beauty to the surroundings.

Popularity and Uses of Crinkled Hair Grass

As a popular ornamental grass species, crinkled hair grass has earned recognition for its aesthetic appeal, ecological value, and adaptability to various garden and landscape settings. Its subtle yet striking presence makes it a sought-after choice for numerous applications, ranging from naturalistic plantings and wild gardens to sustainable landscapes and conservation projects. Here are some notable uses of crinkled hair grass in horticulture and ecological conservation:

Garden Design

In garden design, crinkled hair grass offers a valuable textural element, contributing softness, movement, and visual interest to mixed plantings and perennial borders. Its gracefully arching foliage can serve as a backdrop for more colorful or upright plants, creating a harmonious composition that resonates with a naturalistic aesthetic. When positioned strategically, it can impart a sense of lightness and airiness to the landscape, enhancing the overall ambiance.

Erosion Control and Slope Stabilization

Due to its clumping growth habit and fibrous root system, crinkled hair grass is adept at soil stabilization and erosion control on slopes, embankments, and other challenging terrain. Its extensive root network helps bind the soil particles together, reducing the risk of erosion and promoting the establishment of other vegetation in erosion-prone areas.

Wildlife Habitat Support

As a native grass species, crinkled hair grass plays a role in supporting wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Its airy panicles of flowers provide nectar and pollen for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to the ecological balance of the surrounding environment. Additionally, the dense foliage and clumping habit offer shelter and protective cover for small wildlife, fostering a thriving ecosystem.

Sustainable Landscaping

In the realm of sustainable and eco-friendly landscaping, crinkled hair grass holds significance as a low-maintenance, water-efficient plant with valuable ecological attributes. Its adaptability to diverse growing conditions, combined with its ornamental value, makes it an asset in sustainable garden designs aimed at promoting environmental stewardship and conservation.

Rock Gardens and Xeriscaping

The delicate, cascading form of crinkled hair grass makes it an appealing choice for rock gardens and xeriscapes, where it can soften the rugged textures of stones and enhance the arid landscape with its verdant presence. This grass species demonstrates admirable resilience in lean, well-drained soils typical of these environments, making it a natural fit for these specialized garden styles.

Understanding the diverse uses and applications of crinkled hair grass underscores its versatility and value in horticulture, conservation, and aesthetic enhancement, positioning it as a desirable choice for a wide range of landscape scenarios.

Common Diseases and Pests

Though crinkled hair grass is typically resilient and resistant to many common pests and diseases, it is not entirely immune to certain issues that can diminish its vigor and appearance. Being aware of potential threats and taking preventive measures can help safeguard the health of this ornamental grass. Here are some common diseases and pests that may affect crinkled hair grass:

Common Diseases

  • Leaf Spot: Fungal pathogens may cause irregular, discolored spots on the leaves of crinkled hair grass, leading to reduced aesthetics and potential weakening of the plant. Leaf spot diseases can arise in humid conditions and may be exacerbated by overcrowding and poor air circulation.
  • Rust: Rust fungi may produce orange to brown pustules on the leaves of crinkled hair grass, resulting in a decline in overall plant vigor. Adequate spacing, good airflow, and avoiding overhead irrigation can help prevent the development and spread of rust infections.

Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosing diseases in crinkled hair grass involves careful observation of the plant’s symptoms, including leaf discoloration, spotting, or abnormal growth. If you suspect a disease issue, consider implementing the following measures:

  • Prune affected foliage: Safely remove and dispose of any infected foliage to prevent the spread of diseases to healthy parts of the plant and neighboring plants.
  • Promote good air circulation: Ensure that the planting area allows for adequate airflow, which can help minimize the incidence of fungal diseases and reduce their impact on crinkled hair grass.
  • Monitor environmental conditions: Pay attention to factors such as moisture levels, humidity, and air circulation, as addressing imbalances in these areas can help create conditions less conducive to disease development.

Common Pests

  • Aphids: These small, sap-sucking insects may occasionally infest crinkled hair grass, particularly in favorable weather conditions. Aphids can cause leaf distortion, curling, and the secretion of honeydew, potentially leading to sooty mold development.
  • Grasshoppers: In regions with high grasshopper populations, crinkled hair grass may be subject to feeding damage from these voracious insects, which can consume foliage and result in aesthetic deterioration.

Knowing how to identify and address diseases and pests affecting crinkled hair grass can help you implement timely interventions and preserve the health and attractiveness of this valuable plant species.

Botanist’s Tips for Growing Crinkled Hair Grass

Drawing on the collective wisdom of botanists and horticulturists, the following insights offer valuable guidance for cultivating and caring for crinkled hair grass, allowing you to harness its potential and maximize its benefits in diverse landscape settings:

  • Match planting locations to its preferences: Select planting sites that align with the sunlight and soil preferences of crinkled hair grass, enabling it to thrive and contribute to the aesthetics of the surroundings.
  • Monitor moisture levels: Keep a close eye on the soil moisture, adjusting your watering practices based on the plant’s current needs and environmental conditions. Avoid overwatering, as excessively wet soil can lead to root issues and reduced vitality.
  • Prune for rejuvenation: Regularly prune crinkled hair grass in early spring to remove old foliage and promote the emergence of fresh growth, rejuvenating the plant and maintaining its graceful appearance.
  • Embrace its versatility: Explore the diverse uses of crinkled hair grass in garden design, ecological conservation, and sustainable landscaping, leveraging its adaptability and aesthetic charm to enhance various landscape scenarios.

Employing these botanist’s tips can help you optimize the performance of crinkled hair grass and foster its role as a compelling and valuable element in your outdoor spaces.

Fun Facts About Crinkled Hair Grass

As we journey deeper into the world of crinkled hair grass, here are some intriguing and lesser-known facts about this graceful ornamental grass species:

  • Naturalizing in the Wild: Crinkled hair grass has the capacity to naturalize in the wild under favorable conditions, forming expansive drifts of delicate foliage and ethereal flowers in natural habitats.
  • Wildlife Attraction: The airy panicles of crinkled hair grass are sought after by songbirds and small mammals for nesting material, adding an additional layer of wildlife appeal to this versatile plant species.
  • Eligible for Restoration Projects: Due to its ecological significance and adaptability, crinkled hair grass is often included in habitat restoration and conservation
Picture of Peter Taylors

Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.