How to Grow Plants

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Xerophyllum plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Bear Grass, and Turkey Beard: Cultivation & Garden Use

A small genus of plants containing just two species. Xerophyllum are hardy perennials that range in height from two to five feet (60 cm to 1.5 m).

They have spiky leaves and blooms in the summer carrying small stellar flowers of white, atop stringy stems.

Some of the common names for the two Xerophyllum members include Turkeybeard, Mountain asphodel, Squaw grass, and Bear grass.

Xerophyllum tenax

Xerophyllum tenax by GlacierNPS.

How to Grow Xerophyllum

When growing from seed it is best to grow Turkeybeard and other Xerophyllum plants outdoors.

Sow the seeds at a depth of about 6 mm (1/4 inch) in flats using fresh seed at the end of summer/ early autumn.

Sink the flats in a shady area, cover with glass, and keep moist.

It should take from one to two months for the seeds to germinate in a shady area of the garden.

Ideally Xerophyllum should be spaced from 30 to 60 cm (one to two feet) apart and grown in a partial sun to full sun part of the garden that has a rich, slightly acidic soil of pH 5.5 to 6.5.


Beargrass by brewbooks.

Xerophyllum Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Bear grass, Turkey beard, Squaw grass, Quip-quip, Mountain asphodel, Beartongue, Indian basket grass.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 20 to 60 inches (50—150 cm).
  • Native: Northern America.
  • Genus: Contains two species: Xerophyllum asphodeloides (Turkey beard) and Xerophyllum tenax (Bear grass).
  • Growing Region: Zones 6 to 9.
  • Flowers: Early summer.
  • Flower Details: White, cream. Racemes. Tiny Star-shaped. Wiry stems. Terminally clustered. Plants on bloom have a resemblance to upright clubs.
  • Foliage: Herbaceous. Thread-like to linear, Pine needle-like. 12 to 40 inches long (30–100 cm).
  • Sow Outside: Germination time: one to two months. Use fresh seed. Sow at 1/4 inch (6 mm) into flats towards the end of summer. Sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist and to check if seedlings have emerged. After one full year of growth, transplant the seedlings to their final following the last frost. Space at 12 to 24 inches (30–60 cm).
  • Sow Inside: No.
  • Requirements and care: Partial to Full sunlight. Good drainage. Can tolerate wet soils. Rich soil. Acidic soil pH 5.5 to 6.5. Spring mulch. Regular watering. Once established, do not move unless necessary - relocate when plant is dormant. Propagate: Easiest from seeds. Also possible from rhizome cuttings (each rhizome section should have at least one growth bud) in the spring in cooler areas or the autumn in warmer areas - be aware that this can stress the plant. Offsets from the rhizome are rare, but can also be separated and replanted.
  • Family: Melanthiaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Bunchflowers.
  • Miscellaneous: Thrives in areas subject to frequent fires. Their rhizomatous roots can survive high heat, and the plants are one of the first to recolonized burnt out areas. Traditionally used by Native Americans to weave waterproof baskets.

Caring for Xerophyllum Plants

It is important to supply Xerophyllum with a mulch every spring and to keep them well watered.

If you require more plants then propagate from seeds. Taking rhizome cuttings is possible but can be risky due to stressing the plant. Sometimes root offsets appear that can be separated off when dormant in early spring or autumn.

Common Questions

How many members does the Xerophyllum genus have?

The Xerophyllum genus consists of only two species of North American plants.

Do members of Xerophyllum make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Xerophyllum species can make intriguing additions to a woodland or shade garden, providing a unique architectural element.

Which Xerophyllum species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Xerophyllum tenax, also known as bear grass, is frequently grown for its distinctive tuft of grass-like leaves and tall flower spikes.

Are members of the Xerophyllum plant genus fragrant?

Xerophyllum plants do not typically have a strong fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Xerophyllum?

Xerophyllum plants thrive in partial to full shade with moist, well-draining soil. They prefer cool, woodland conditions.

Is Xerophyllum invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Xerophyllum is not listed as invasive in the USA.

How do I remove Xerophyllum plants from my garden?

To remove Xerophyllum, it's best to dig up the entire plant, being careful to get the entire root system.


The Xerophyllum plant genus consists of perennial plants native to North America. They are admired for their tall, robust growth, linear leaves, and clusters of white, star-shaped flowers.

Grow Xerophyllum from seeds or take rhizome cuttings, preferably in spring or autumn. They thrive in full sun to partial shade and prefer acidic, well-drained soil. Regular watering is necessary, particularly during dry periods, but over watering should be avoided to prevent root rot.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Xerophyllum plants. You may also enjoy the following flowering perennial growing guides: How to grow Perennial Tropaeolum, Cyclamen, and Chrysanthemum plants.