This is one part in a new weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “40 Plants You (Probably) Have Never Heard of – But Will Love,” 40 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region but hard to find.
Clearwater Idaho fescue
Festuca idahoensis ‘Clearwater Blue’
Size: 6-inch clumps; 1 to 2 feet tall when in bloom.
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Exposure: Mostly sun; prefers afternoon shade in the Central Valley.
Bloom season: Silver flower stems in spring.
Pruning needs: Little or none; remove spent flower stems.
Water needs: Medium- to low-water; once established, water deeply once a week or twice a month.
Snapshot: Add dots of silver blue with lots of movement in your water-wise garden. A native of another relatively dry state, Clearwater Idaho fescue is a fine-textured, dwarf, bunch grass with chalky blue leaves. The well-rounded clumps reach only 6 inches tall. In spring, this fescue produces long silvery flower stems, 1 to 2 feet tall, that float like feathers in the Delta breeze. More dwarf than similar fescues, Clearwater can be used in small spaces for accent and color contrast with green-leaved plants.
▪ For more on “40 Plants,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.