Austrostipa scabra – Spear grasses are found in all states of Australia, but predominantly in the southern half of the continent. There are many species, each of which has different characteristics, but all are well known as having a high tolerance to drought, poor soils and high temperature. The Spear grasses grow in association with dry eucalpyt forest, woodlands, shrublands, in low open forests, grasslands and along coastlines. These grasses often occur in shallow soils of low fertility in areas of high summer temperatures. They are able to survive and remain green even under dry, hot summer conditions.
– Spear grasses are very useful landscaping plants and Stipa scabra makes great horse pasture although it should be noted that grazing should be done after seeds have dropped as the seeds can be fairly sharp.
– The long panicles will usually remain upright and attractive for some months, even after the seeds have fallen.
– Spear grasses can also be used for revegetation as they are very hardy on poor sites and are able to survive harsh conditions.
Spear grasses grow on a wide range of soil types. They will grow on poor soils as well as soils with high acidity. For example Rough Spear grass grows across many soil types while Foxtail Spear grass grows on all types as long as there is adequate drainage. Tall Spear grass prefers loam soils of moderate to low pH.
Sow the seeds 5-10 mm below the soil surface when moisture is available. Spear grass is best sown in autumn or winter. In the cooler months, germination can take from 68 weeks, but in the warmer months it may be 710 days. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged for three weeks after sowing. Seed can be sown with or without awns. Seed sown with awns is able to move when watered and to find a niche for its own burial. It is however, much more difficult to sow and usually requires hand sowing. Seed without awns is easier to sow, but requires sowing into a groove or shallow trench.
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