How to Grow Tanglehead


Tanglehead is a warm-season perennial grass that grows in bunches of one to three feet but may reach a height of five feet under ideal conditions. This pale, bluish-green plant provides forage for livestock in the southwestern United States and was prized for thatching in ancient Hawaii, as it resists weathering. As an ornamental grass, tanglehead produces attractive foliage and distinctive blooms that turn red-brown in the fall. Its four- to 12-inch leaves are ¼-inch wide and may be folded or flat.

Step 1

Harvest mature seeds in the fall and store in an airtight container until spring. Although seeds may germinate if planted immediately after harvest, germination is substantially improved when provided with a 6-month dormancy.

Step 2

Place seedlings in a sunny location that receives bright, filtered light. Apply time-release fertilizer when seedlings are a week old.

Step 3

Move seedlings outside to harden them off when they are 8 to 12 weeks old. Place in sheltered location for several days and gradually increase the exposure to sunlight every few days.

Step 4

Plant in well-drained soil when seedlings are 3 to 4 months old. Tanglehead can tolerate low fertility and low moisture, making it carefree as an ornamental plant. Once-a-month watering with water-soluble fertilizer provides the moisture and nutrients tanglehead requires for active growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed starter
  • Peat pots/trays
  • Time-release fertilizer
  • Water-soluble fertilizer


  • USDA Fact Sheets
  • Encyclopedia of Life
  • Audubon Research

Who Can Help

  • Ornamental Grasses
Keywords: tanglehead, ornamental grass, perennial grass

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.