California fescue, Festuca californica, is a showy clump forming bunchgrass. Its dull green to silvery blue foliage persists throughout the year, making it an excellent choice for any native garden. California fescue grows quickly to a large graceful clump roughly 2 feet in diameter, and because it does not form rhizomes, remains fairly contained. However, in the right situation, it can spread from seed, and care must be taken where this is not desired. The large inflorescence rises dramatically 1 to 3 feet above the clump forming a drooping gray-blue spikelet which slowly bleaches in the summer sun and heat. Festuca californica is extremely drought tolerant and seldom requires any supplemental water. A native of chaparral habitats in the Oregon coast and Cascade ranges as well as western California, this grass grows best in open or partly shaded woodlands below 5,000 feet, but will grow in the Willamette Valley as well, as long as care is taken to provide drainage. New blades appear in the fall after the first rains and grow quickly through winter and early spring. California fescue has very few diseases or pests and is a very dependable and ornamental grass for the native or rock garden and is a great companion plant for any oak. It can also be used for restoration and is often used for re-vegetating grassland that has been cleared or claimed by non-native grasses.
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